- Available on:
- Subpop Records
[Subpop Records; 03/20/2012]
Spoek's Second Album Impresses And Terrifies
I hate the horror genre and I’ve never watched a single scary movie to the end. So I’m the basically the worst person to review Spoek Mathambo’s second album Father Creeper, which is a masterpiece of dread and barely-disguised gore. Influenced by heavy metal and Nigerian horror films, Mokgatha Nthato lives up to the artistic name Spoek, which means “ghost” in Afrikaans. Thanks to him, we now have the soundtrack for a slasher flick in 23rd century Jo-burg, where everyone dresses like an early Spike Lee movie.
And yet it’s a credible electronic album, with energetic, slinky beats and head-nodding percussion. Also, it’s psych rock, with hints of Radiohead and plenty of guitar fuzz. And then there’s hip hop. Jarringly, these styles appear at different points in the same song, like the title track “Father Creeper,” which starts out with Thom Yorke-style piano chords, skids into dirty bass and retro 80s snares, and lands at a minor key sing-song/rap in a distorted monster voice. It’s jerky enough to make you lose your lunch.
Of course, the horror isn’t just in the sonics. A young artist from the first post-apartheid generation to come of age in South Africa, a country currently in the depths of an HIV crisis, will have some thoughts to share. They’re not that cheerful. In “Skorokoro,” over a jangly, sunny highlife guitar riff, Spoek mockingly-sings: “The bullet’s raining over your head…peace will come when you’re dead.”
So yeah, Father Creeper scares the sh-t out of me. On the other hand, it also confirms Spoek Mathambo’s jaw-dropping artistic mojo. Which is more important? Hard to tell, but a lasting impression means everything in this business.