Bongeziwe Mabandla explores love’s imperfections on “Noba Bangathini”
This January sees the release of “Noba Bangathini”, the first single off Bongeziwe Mabandla’s upcoming album.
A song about being imperfect and in love and loving an imperfect person, the much-anticipated new music from the multi-award winning South African artist sees Mabandla exploring love’s frontiers in moving depth. “Noba Bangathini” also signals the onset of a fresh creative surge from Mabandla and producer Tiago Correia-Paulo – one that effortlessly springboards the music into a rich and captivating terrain where synthesisers or drum loops are as vital as Mabandla’s signature acoustic guitar.
“For me, this song is about surviving and overcoming situations with someone else,” says Mabandla of his new release. “It’s about seeing all the obstacles and heartache that comes with sharing your life with another, but still choosing to do so, in spite of it all.”
“Noba Bangathini” captures a narrator rationalising his decisions and views of companionship. Listen closely (or follow along the translated lyrics) and you can feel what it means to justify making something, once harmful to you, work again.
In creating the music for this central story of two people colliding and fusing into one, Correia-Paulo set about recording multiple objects hitting each other – a piece of wood falling, the opening of a coconut with a machete, a steel plank being dropped, a glass bottle being thrown against the wall – to form the basis of the song’s production.
With Mabandla’s vocal mixed right up, minimalist layering of his voice with harmonies, and an intention to keep the tempo fluctuation, synth distortions, and more imperfections intact, “Noba Bangathini” becomes a song that is, in all ways, one of the most honest and true in all Mabandla’s considerable recorded output.
“Bongeziwe wrote the song very much like he wrote most of the songs on iimini,” reveals Correia-Paulo. “But, because we wanted ‘Noba Bangathini’ to be the song that allowed his audience to experience Bongeziwe coming from a very different place, the first thing we did after first recording it was mute the acoustic guitar completely and add in a synth.”
The result of this is a song that reveals the continuously blooming artistic expression of one of Africa’s most original artists – and also lays the foundation for the music to come on Mabandla’s upcoming fourth album.