Keleketla! isn’t a gaggle. It’s a studio assemblage of British, South African, Nigerian, American and extra musicians that recorded largely in South Africa and England, produced by the English electronic-music duo Coldcut.
From its beginnings within the 1980s, Coldcut — Matt Black and Jonathan Extra — has embraced far-reaching sampling and genre-mixing, with an ear for African-diaspora music old and new: soul, funk, reggae, hip-hop, home, acid jazz, techno, jungle and extra. Coldcut began the Ninja Tune label in 1990 and has gone on to experiment with ever-evolving audiovisual expertise; the duo has produced and remixed music for and with Eric B. and Rakim, Lisa Stansfield, Queen Latifah, Annette Peacock and Steve Reich. Keleketla!’s tracks depend on Coldcut’s basic abilities as D.J.s and producers: layering multifarious sources to seek out and sharpen a groove.
The “Keleketla!” album ticks all of the containers that distinguish collaboration from exploitation. Coldcut was invited to report in South Africa by the Keleketla Library, an arts archive, academic workshop and efficiency area in Johannesburg. (Within the Sepedi language, “keleketla” means the “response” in call-and-response). On the album, the African and Black musicians have their voices up entrance, carrying messages in African languages together with English, they usually share the songwriting credit.
Every observe finds a unique cultural mesh. Coldcut visited Johannesburg for classes in Soweto in 2017, held extra classes in London in 2018 and 2019 and accomplished mixing in 2020, consulting with the Keleketla Library by way of video calls. Coldcut’s digital experience surrounds Yugen Blakrok, from South Africa, in “Crystalise” as she raps about solitude, cosmic connections, communal reminiscence and private power over a observe that attracts on each breakbeats and “What’s Going On”; her husky rhymes are answered by the Barbadian-British saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings. The album’s core South African musicians — Nono Nkoane and Tubatsi Moloi on vocals, Thabang Tabane on bass, Sibusile Xaba on guitar and Gally Ngoveni on bass — agitate a easy, scalloped melody with a double-time undercurrent in “5+1,” fused by way of multitracking with Joe Armon-Jones’s jazzy piano from London.