Following up on their 2019 self-titled debut, the South African outré-jazz collective SPAZA’s next album, UPRIZE!, is also the soundtrack to a documentary of the same name, about the 1976 uprising against apartheid in South Africa.
Coming out Oct. 16 on the Johannesburg-based label Mushroom Hour Half Hour, the latest single out today from UPRIZE! is titled “Xolile Mosi,” named for a student activist who was one of the first killed by police violence in Soweto in 1976.
Like their fellow South Africans in the BCUC band, SPAZA’s music isn’t bound by conventional, commercial strictures, unfolding at the pace, in this case, called from by the film.
The collective, which has fluid membership but has retained the rhythm section comprising bassist Ariel Zamonsky and percussionist Gontse Makhene, took a three-day improvised scoring workshop back in 2016. They improvised over footage from the then-unfinished documentary, shots of the uprising of student solidarity being met with brutality from the apartheid state.
"Xolile's story was shattering. It still stays with me till today,” Makhene says in a press release. “You are simply in awe of how resilient [the protestors] are. You can't but have that feeling of sadness, of anger, of wanting to avenge. [But] you are in a situation where you are not able to help the person.”
Undercurrents of mourning and rage undulate just below the music’s surface. True to SPAZA’s self-made form, the elastic songs on UPRIZE! can begin ruminatively, and transform, meld and open up to breathe.
The soundtrack album can be preordered today via Bandcamp, which has waived its fee on the first Friday of the month.