Keleketla! is a globe-spanning collaboration

“Keleketla” is a word from the Pedi language of South Africa whose English equivalent is “once upon a time”. In the case of the album Keleketla!, the story opens with an invitation. It was extended to veteran UK electronic duo Coldcut by Johannesburg’s Keleketla! Library, an archive and arts project, with the aim of setting up a transcontinental musical collaboration.

The resulting nine tracks were recorded in Soweto and London, with additional contributions from other points of the world, including a magnificent turn from Los Angeles rap pioneers The Watts Prophets.

Cover of Keleketla!’s self-titled album

They turn up on “Freedom Groove”, an old-school blast of radical rhetoric about emancipation set to righteous horn blasts from US-based Afrobeat band Antibalas, drumming from the late Tony Allen and electronics from Coldcut. Allen, who died in April, also turns up on “Future Toyi Toyi”, leading the action with a typically charismatic display of fluent busyness. The song is based on a southern African form of protest music and dance, whose chants, here done by Cape Town’s Soundz of the South, are given added urgency by jittery guitar licks and electro rhythms.

High quality from start to finish, Keleketla! tells a lively, cosmopolitan tale of musical resistance to a world of borders and repression.

★★★★☆

Keleketla!’ is released by Ahead of Our Time

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