Nearly a year ago I was at SXSW in Austin, stumbled over to the Fader Fort one night excited to witness that evening’s secret guest (long story short: I was hoping for Diddy, but I got Justin Vernon’s high school band or something like that). But all was not lost -- as I was standing around near the front of the stage, I was suddenly blown away by SPOEK MATHAMBO, a South African hip-hop artist who was skillfully and brazenly re-inventing JOY DIVISION’S “She’s Lost Control” right before my eyes and ears.
The progression in my head went something like "Oh cool sample" to "Oh shit is this a cover?" to "Wow this is unlike anything I've ever heard."
Needless to say, I’m pretty protective of what is one of my Top 3 favorite bands of all time, and the music of Joy Division is pretty dear to me. But while by now everyone has tried their hand covering, re-booting, or re-imagining the music of the Manchester post-punk legends, Mathambo takes it next level and all his own, incorporating his Afro-futurism world music beats and rhythms under his heavy words, all while retaining Martin Hannett's production charm and the dark undercurrent of the original.
Mathambo even has a little bit of Ian Curtis in his dance moves, and the video for "Control," posted above, is creepy as fuck.
Why am I getting into all this? Because fuck me eight ways to Sunday, because the 24-year-old talent is making his area debut March 25 at T. T. The Bear’s in Cambridge. Should be a rager, and it’s also a hint that Mathambo will be back at SXSW this year, ready to mesmerize a whole new crop of kids just like he did me 11 months ago.