Spoek Mathambo, Father Creeper

Michaelangelo Matos

By Michaelangelo Matos

on 03.12.12 in Reviews

On his 2010 debut, Mshini Wam, the young Johannesburg vocalist/producer Spoek Mathambo unveiled a sound he called “township tech” – bounding synths, crisp and computery percussion, directly chanted, rapped and sung lyrics, all on top of techno-tinged grooves sourced from South African rhythms. Those things haven’t disappeared entirely from his debut for Sub Pop; the groaning 808-driven groove and techy claps of “Put Some Red on It” prove that. But they’re nowhere near the frontline, either.

As casually hybridized as any around

Father Creeper kicks off with “Kites,” whose ground-scraping low end, videogame squiggles, and clipped guitar strums under Mathambo’s quick flow sets the stage for an album as casually hybridized as any around. “Venison Fingers,” which combines light-skipping keyboard patterns, tippy-tap drums, and acidic guitar, operates in the same spirit. Mathambo even dips his foot deep into rock tracks with the dry room feel of something recorded (not “produced”) by Steve Albini (“Dog to Bone,” the closing “Grave”). That’s less of a surprise than it might be, given his new label (and earlier cover of Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control”). The most personable of the new songs, though, is probably “We Can Work,” featuring Rebone, a bass-warped electronic cross between Superchunk’s “Slack Motherfucker” and the Last Poets chastising against “party and bullshit” on “When the Revolution Comes,” speaking of unforeseen hybrids.