Bokani Dyer has already established himself as one of the leading musical voices of his generation in South Africa. But with Radio Sechabathe heralded multi-hyphenate's first release on aural arbiter Gilles Peterson's Brownswood imprinthe expands his voice, reach and notability. Synthesizing a set of broad influences and building sounds of possibility surrounding his homeland and a global community, Dyer delivers an irresistible amalgam for our times and future.
Born in exile in Botswana in 1986 and returning home some seven years later as South Africa grappled with its past and looked forward to post-apartheid promise, Dyer has always been in a uniquely important position in terms of perspective and place. Working from that vantage point he shaped his sound and vision on earlier successes, including sophomore standout Emancipate the Story (Dyertribe, 2011), the wide-ranging World Music (Dyertribe, 2016) and a trio-focused Neo Native (Dyertribe, 2018). Now he takes it a step further, simultaneously foregrounding his playing, singing, songwriting and production skills while exploring and developing concepts of nation-building and togetherness through a compounding of influences.
Dyer's gifts for dynamism and directness are clear throughout. With glazed groover "Resonance of Truth" he draws on West African ideals while tackling the topics of mindfulness and self-expression. For "Tiya Mowa," glowing harmonies and soulful tides support Setswana-language vocals that address empowerment. With the funky "Move On" comes a scintillating serenity prayer promoting acceptance and the title action in the wake of that state. And during "Ke Nako," which first appeared (in a different version) as the lead-off number on Brownswood's South African-focused Indaba Is compilation, the leader speaks to past tension and present tense, referencing a phrase that looked to encourage voting in the nation's first post-apartheid election and delving into the concept of identity with voices aloft and passion in clear play.
Across 14 album tracks that shift in personnel, Dyer works with a who's who of South Africa's up-and-coming and established talent including (but not limited to) guitarists Keenan Ahrends and Reza Khota, saxophonists Steve Dyer and Linda Sikhakhane, bass guitarists Tendai Shoko and Benjamin Jephta, and drummer Sphelelo Mazibuko. Ever generous with the spotlight, he also carves out features for some of his crew. Spoken word artist Damani Nkosi stands tall on the purposeful and powerful "State of the Nation." Bassist-vocalist Amaeshi Ikechi proves memorable on the brief and divine "Spirit People." Vocalist-keyboardist Yonela Mnana comes to the fore for the reflective "Ho Tla Loka." Trumpeter Sthembiso Bhengu offers poignant playing on the hymn-like "Medu." And Sereetsi and the Natives work magic with the aforementioned "Ke Nako." This is a musical family affair to be sure, with universal implications accompanying the gathering. But it's also a statement that speaks to a singular figure's story and strengths. Bokani Dyer knows no bounds, and he continues to serve as a beacon of creativity, hope and history unfolding.
Be Where You Are; Mogaetsho; Move On; State of the Nation; Tiya Mowa; Ke Nako; Picturesque; Spirit
People; Victims of
Circumstane; Amogelang; Ho Tla Loka; Resonance of Truth; You Are Home; Medu.
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