Foster Manganyi – Ndzi Teke Riendzo No. 1

Although it seems to have been released for some time (December 2010) I have only come across ‘Ndzi Teke Riendzo No. 1′ relatively recently. More specifically I can only thank ‘Selfish Dan’ for pointing me in the direction of Foster Manganyi’s music.

A re-release of the 2008 album which was until now only available on tape, the LP was originally recorded in the same Soweto studio, by the same producer (Richard Hlungwani – a.k.a Nzonji) as the much revered Shangaan Electro compilation. Because the style of production may seem completely abstract to those who have not heard it, and the context in which it was made is so alien to most western releases, I wanted to quote the original press release for the album in an attempt to establish the basics without over complicating matters:

“Foster Manganyi is a pastor from Giyani, in Limpopo, South Africa. His sublime music shares with the Honest Jon’s compilation Shangaan Electro a startling palette of sampled, synthesized sounds – the signature whistle and marimba, no bass, a little wonky high-life and rough, fast skittering drum patterns. Yet these are gospel songs, intensely sincere, brimming with aching, plaintive, mournful spirituality, without a trace of R&B, mangled or not; and however fractured, multi-faceted and fresh the music comes across, the surging lines and harmonies of the support singers are unmistakably rooted in the traditional vocal music of South Africa…”

Much can be said about the primitive (and in a sense ‘dated’) style of recording, however this would be unfair and even ignorant. The tracks are extremely rich and detailed, with much attention being paid to tempo and structure, ensuring there is something new to discover with each listen. This fantastic review from Dusted magazine at the time relates to the tracks ”MIDI-sourced thin-ness” and their existence within a ”bass-less realm”. Carry on reading, and in what can only be from a complimentary angle it even goes on to reference the idea that there are many similarities between the styles on show and the rhythms synonymous with the modern Juke/Footwork sounds from Chicago.

It seems obvious to state that the album generally sets a relatively high tempo, however this isn’t to say that it is at all monotonous or unimaginative – perhaps my two favourite tracks from the LP are at opposite ends of this particular spectrum. Track no. 8, entitled simply ‘Zion’ is one of the slowest on the release, whereas album opener and title track ‘Ndzi Teke Riendzo’ (apparently translating as ‘I’m Taking A Journey’) is one of the most infectious, positive and uplifting tunes I have heard in some time – even without knowing what a single word means. (Incidentally it comes as no surprise that running theme is a religious one, with phrases such as “I Will Keep on Praying” and “Working for the Lord” chanted repeatedly).

You can watch the video for the album opener below, and if it brings you as much pleasure the first time you hear it as it did for me then I highly recommend getting hold of a copy. The usual formats are all available  with Honest Jons being just one of many stockists. And after all, who wouldn’t be better of without some lo-fi Shangaan gospel music in their lives?

Foster Manganyi
Ndzi Teke Riendzo No. 1
Honest Jons

1. Ndzi Teke Riendzo (I’m Taking A Journey)
2. Amen-Amen
3. Tintsumi (The Angels)
4. Misava Ya Fova (The World Is Dying)
5. Hi Tirhela Tilo (Working For The Lord)
6. Moya Wanga (My Spirit)
7. Fambani
8. Zion
9. Ndzi To Tivisela (I Will Keep On Praying)
10. Vanhu Va Lova (People Are Dying)


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