Back in the fall, the Damon Albarn-led supergroup The Good, the Bad & the Queen released their long-awaited album, Merrie Land. Now, the ever-prolific Gorillaz bandleader has turned his sights to Africa Express, his long-running collective dedicated to promoting African music and artists.
Today, the group has released a new EP called MOLO, which means “hello” in the South African language of Xhosa. The collection boasts four electronic tracks created in collaboration with Western and African artists over the course of a week. Sonically diverse, the effort represents a span of talents and African influences.
Opening song “Nayena” is the most traditionally electronic, with a heavy beat guiding the number as African vocalists contribute throughout. In contrast, second cut “No Games” sports a minimalist and slower rhythm, offering collaborators a chance to be highlighted with distinct rap verses. The album then picks up with “Xhosa”, propelled with a frantic bassist, call-and-response chorus vocals, and horn flourishes. The record closes with Phuzekhemisi’s collaboration, “Vessels”, highlighting the acoustic guitar as well as buoyant xylophone and laidback backing beat.
The EP serves as a precursor to a full-length album coming this summer from the project’s newly created label, Africa Express Records. To create the new material, Africa Express flew to Johannesburg, South Africa, with musicians like Gruff Rhys, Nick Zinner, Ghetts, Mr Jukes, and others working with stars of the South African scene including Blk Jks, Infamous Boiz, Morena Leraba, and Maskandi guitar legend Phuzekhemisi.
Listen to MOLO and watch Africa Express’ promotional video below.
Africa Express also has plans to headline the Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture celebrations in Leytonstone, UK. The sold-out show will take place in a circus tent on March 29th, featuring Albarn; Django Django; The Good, The Bad & The Queen; and dozens of others.
01. Nayena ft Infamous Boiz, Morena Leraba, Moonchild Sanelly, Mr Jukes, Zolani Mahola, Remi Kabaka
02. No Games ft Muzi, Ghetts, Sho Madjozi, Moonchild Sanelly, Poté, Radio123
03. Xhosa ft. Moonchild Sanelly, Otim Alpha, Damon Albarn, Blue May, Georgia, Nick Zinner, BCUC, Blk Jks
04. Vessels ft. Phuzekhemisi, Gruff Rhys, Muzi, BCUC