Read time:2 minute, 15 seconds

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Find Afrorave Vol 1 on your favourite streaming platform, plug in the best headphones you can lay your hands on, crank the volume up to eleventy-stupid and be prepared to be hit square in the face by a runaway train of beat, sound and colour.

Toya Delazy’s Afrorave Vol 1 is a glorious celebration of the artist’s South African or, to be more specific, Zulu roots, a culture that, I am afraid to say, the British Empire and its apartheid successors did their best to quash but which stands as proud and tall today as it ever did. Go Zulus!

How cool is she! (Image, Pattern Nation).

Techno inspired euphoria.

It may be that your only experience of the music of South Africa begins and ends with Paul Simon’s 1986 offering Graceland or the chilled vocal stylings of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Well, with respect to those esteemed and talented artists, forget your preconceptions: Afrorave Vol 1 is an explosive culture clash melding the syncopated beats of African rhythm and sound with the relentless techno-inspired euphoria of London dance music. The album’s opening track, Resurrection, is the perfect choice for a single release (great video too) and, after having my brain blown away by the first four tracks, I was – I have to admit – grateful for the altogether more laid back track five, Tini. But hey, having listened to the album three times on the spin before writing this, it has to be said that each listening delivered a different favourite, so don’t be led by me: you decide.

Satisfying complexity.

Afrorave Vol 1 is sung entirely in isiZulu, the Zulu language, and while, like me, most of you won’t understand a single word, I’m not sure whether that will detract too much from your overall enjoyment. Let’s be honest, there are millions of people around the world who, for decades, have revelled in the music of Elvis, The Beatles and Madonna – in truth, most of pop history’s best-selling acts – without speaking English so it can be done. Actually, not understanding the lyrics allows the listener to immerse themselves completely in the satisfying complexity of the album’s soundscape.

In a world of identikit, autotuned chart fodder and bland-leading-the-bland singer/songwriters, Afrorave is the breath of fresh air we all need to blow those lockdown cobwebs away. I loved it.

Afrorave Vol 1 is out on Friday 18th June. Find it in all the usual places.

Watch Resurrection here.

FROM THE VAULTS! Watch Rob Harkavy’s December 2020 interview with Toya here.

Follow Toya on Twitter here.

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Rob Harkavy

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