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Group Theory: Black Music

by Tumi Mogorosi

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  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    140-gram Classic Black vinyl LP inside a reverse-board gatefold jacket, with custom M3H/NS inner sleeve.

    Cover Photograph by Andrew Tshabangu.
    Cover Design by Vusi Hlatywayo.
    Collage on inner cover by Duduetsang Lamola
    Photographs on inner cover by Tseliso Monaheng

    Includes unlimited streaming of Group Theory: Black Music via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 3 days
    Purchasable with gift card

      €22 EUR or more 

     

  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Compact Disc inside a deluxe tip-on gatefold sleeve.

    Cover Photograph by Andrew Tshabangu.
    Cover Design by Vusi Hlatywayo.
    Collage on inner cover by Duduetsang Lamola
    Photographs on inner cover by Tseliso Monaheng

    Includes unlimited streaming of Group Theory: Black Music via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 3 days
    Purchasable with gift card

      €12 EUR or more 

     

  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    Purchasable with gift card

      €7 EUR  or more

     

1.
Wadada 04:45
2.
The Fall 04:55
3.
Panic Manic 05:19
4.
5.
6.
Walk with Me 07:59
7.
8.
Mmama 05:51
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10.
11.
Tumi Mogorosi - Where are the Keys? (feat. Andile Yenana & Lesego Rampolokeng) Python squeeze accordion Past and future juice in this Sewer turtles + spittle spewers Hades hate gate-keep Dominion? We rattle keys to the magic kingdom Dread antennae pick up extraterrestrial, Toshman AMABUTHO it in a Zim jam-anthem The Omega factor Land’s spirit All on beneath within around + us in it A linkage infinite Sheet music Hieroglyphic-writ Rhythm Pulsate Silence’s violence discord swallow tongue Percussion tattoo down to bass-marrow Ivory tinkle fluid spinal tap No perjury… scalpels out …Gwala surgery Horns gore deep Essence core Ancestral voices war-dance out God’s Window Heart + mind melody makes spines harmonise with entrails/innards Electric-storm censor castles / injustice palaces Parcel gutted out to stark- dark posterity We come in… Disembowelment reclamation mission mean Power addict abject state Disseminate obscene – control virus value system dictate Shatter-machine music cut through minds rhyme with how hearts vibrate in time Liberatory beats in tandem DREAD REVERB… ultrasonic vocab theory to praxis radical process MUD BOUND WORDSOUND GENESIS Life…Revelation Revolution in Black Movement Sleepy hollow shadow notes Creep thru senses crevices dark embrace… Genius resides in BLACKNESS Thaba Bosiu Nocturnal Mountain raised fist spirit habitat Blood rivers mystic baffles psychics + psychiatrists How Kgalagadi muddies Limpopo yet keep the San tomb clean Blues…Black…Darker than grey Creation sounds Gold Reef Mine Rockfall crush-sounds Guitar-string gun spit tear flesh Black sonic science Darkest Acoustics Black slaughter up from under back of beyond the lash /swish Existence level cockroach Even there the serpentine between the keys in Fikile’s pianoed spinal-column Set it of… on Broken bone saxophone moan Morning horn …the dawning Black dreams are born… we’re on Jackboot sense smash Slit wrists quench thirst Vulcan tangle mangle flesh A Mengele experiment Blood clash brainsplash Piteous Black Sash Slash that…vinyl scratch The pain slide through the gash Tripping off morning horns Past the dawning Black futures are born Drum-Bang out hunger pang What the cut throat sang creation music politic It both mystic +concrete No one Dimension Sound first -opp then com-pressed through Hell-Gates Reverberate across space + time Locked in with the rhyme They genocide ideology revamp concentration camped out Lüderitz to Auschwitz Death blood-lines holocaust inheritance Shark / Death Island choice Broken wind instruments Murderous voices poison-gas class-sick as Wagnerian Impeach the epoch from torture to echo-chambers Unborn murmurs Carcasses on conscience corpse consciousness Fart-bass tremors Ancient howls posterity whispers Drum – thunder – roll this present history – traumatic sonic remedy Mass therapy frequency music Heal-force vibratory Without amnesiac side-effect Brain on the Col- Trane tracks Mthuli ka Shezi Shaka spears ? Wine curtain torn Blood on the sugar cane Slave sweat made Hullets sweet Dropped in dum-dum staccato in Cape Flat Dop rhythm Kaffir Coolie Hot-Not Rim-shot Sky burst Heaven come rest on Africa breast Impeach the epoch Put the age on trial Single file execute the times Perennial race war crimes meanwhile they luxuriate in class climes From the rubble bubble-bloodbath-salts Black sweat makes malts Armoured noise against silence’s pestilence facing violence for Mongezi Lymphatic fluid polished Cullinan Diamond Kimberley Gold…………………………… The Atlantic howls cold in skeleton commerce spells trap Hells bells demonic snares Liberty’s eyes stare blinder than Justice Dark angelic notes Volcanic velvet at core Black image creation Breath Brotherhood in Blue Notes Motherless child feeling birthed hanging from the ceiling hanging trees grief hit surface Magnum force drum- pierce up to putrid existence core quest: Strike the life Motherlode By Lesego Rampolokeng

about

M3H010/NS0023 - a co-release between M3H and New Soil


Group Theory: Black Music is a stunning new statement from South African drummer and composer Tumi Mogorosi. Standing in the lineage of South African greats such as Louis Moholo-Moholo, Makaya Ntshoko and Ayanda Sikade, Mogorosi is one of the foremost drummers working anywhere in the world, with a flexible, powerful style that brings a distinctive South African inflection to the polyrhythmic tradition of Elvin Jones, Max Roach and Art Blakey. Since his international debut on Jazzman Records in 2014 with Project ELO, Mogorosi has been in the vanguard of the South African creative music scene’s burgeoning outernational dimension, taking the drummer’s chair in both Shabaka Hutchings’ Shabaka and The Ancestors formation and with avant-garde noiseniks The Wretched.

As Mogorosi’s first project as leader since 2014, Group Theory: Black Music marks a return to the drummer’s musical roots. The sound is anchored in the transnational tradition of Great Black Music, with the core of the group comprising a quintet of newcomers Tumi Pheko (trumpet) and Dalisu Ndlazi (bass) alongside the experienced guitarist Reza Khota, with Mogorosi himself and altoist Mthunzi Mvubu, another Ancestors member, representing the current generation of South Africa’s creative music torchbearers. Motivated by Mogorosi’s driving dynamism, the group create deep-hued modal grooves that burn with a contemporary urgency, while established pianist Andile Yenana brings an elder voice to three of the tracks. Featured vocalists Gabi Motuba (Project ELO, The Wretched) and Siyabonga Mthembu (The Brother Moves On) take differing approaches to the spiritual standard ‘Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child’, while poet Lesego Rampolokeng pours out lyrical fire on ‘Where Are The Keys?’, creating a bridge back to the Black Consciousness movement and figures such as Lefifi Tladi and Wally Mongane Serote.

But where Group Theory: Black Music moves an established format dramatically forward is in the addition of a ten-person choir. Conducted by Themba Maseko, their massed voices soar powerfully above every track as a collective instrument of human breath and body, and enter the album into the small but significant number of radical recordings to have used the voice in this way, such as Max Roach’s "It’s Time", Andrew Hill’s "Lift Every Voice", Billy Harper’s "Capra Black", and Donald Byrd’s "I’m Trying To Get Home". At the same time, the presence of this wall of voices brings an inextricable connection to the venerable tradition of South African choral music, and to the importance that the Black choir has had for South Africa’s religious, political and social cultures, including the culture of South African creative music itself. From the Manhattan Brothers and the choral compositions of Todd Matshikiza to figures such as Johnny Dyani and Victor Ndlazilwane, the collective power of voice has been one of the cornerstones of improvised creative music in the country.

‘I started out in a choir’, says Tumi, as he reflects on the significance of Black voices in concert. ‘There’s this idea of mass, of a group of people gathering, which has a political implication. And the operatic voice has both a presence, and a capacity to scream, a capacity for affect. The instrumental group can sustain the intensity of that affect, and the chorus can go beyond improvisation, toward communal melodies that everyone can be a part of.’

This potential for communality in the music swings close to Group Theory’s conceptual centres of gravity. The title refers to the mathematical theory of the same name, the essentials of which concern the axioms that make a simple set of items into a true mathematical group – associativity, closure and an identity element. These mathematical ideas offered Mogorosi a metaphorical platform for thinking about the way that individual players in a musical unit are also bound together at the moment of creation, in a unity that begins to challenge the individual and complicates conventional ideas of leadership and hierarchy. In bringing experienced musicians such as Yenana and Khota into the orbit of younger players, Mogorosi also wants to re-orientate the idea of teacher-student relations toward a more open vision of intergenerational knowledge sharing. ‘We are looking for questions, not answers’, he says.

Mogorosi’s overarching vision on Group Theory: Black Music is encapsulated by the touchstone quotation from Amiri Baraka – ‘New Black Music is this: Find the self, then kill it.’ For Mogorosi, these words speak to an essential feature and function of Black creative and improvised art – the search for the point where individual boundaries collapse into the universal ongoing flow of the music, at the moment of group creation. This flow is not local, it is transglobal, and it joins the music of the diaspora with Africa, allowing connections and relations to range across historic and contemporary spaces of struggle, self-determination and transformation. Such effects are also transtemporal, dropping deep down into the wells of history to bring forth sounds from the present and future, and allowing the music to burrow back into the past. As Baraka’s words imply, the individual cannot escape this search unchanged, and the creative musician does not desire to: in the time of its creation, New Black Music intends to flow into and through the performers from sources beyond them. The writer of a song is never the only author; the soloist always speaks for others; the leaders are never one but a host of many. Previous times and places, previous performances and compositions, previous souls and struggles are always made manifest in the music; the search for the inner self is also a quest to dissolve the individual into the living soundways of those who came before and those who will come after. ‘The album is under my name,’ says Tumi, ‘but the ideas aim at a decentring of the individual composer or author, and a a decentring of the idea of the “leader” – it tries to encapsulate the idea of a group effect, to go beyond the point of origin, and it refuses geo-specific narratives.’

South African creative and improvised music, with its nomadic history of journeys between the US, Europe and South African, has always been exemplary of these ongoing processes, and it is fitting that Group Theory: Black Music should itself be the result of an international collaboration. Starting from a shared vision and understanding of the parallels between the music being made in their respective countries, South African label Mushroom Hour Half Hour and London based label New Soil were able to pool their resources to support Tumi’s large-scale creative vision for this project and enable it to find the global audience it seeks and deserves.

credits

released July 8, 2022

Andile Yenana – piano [tracks 4,5,9 & 11]
Dalisu Ndlazi – upright bass
Gabi Motuba - vocals [track 10]
Lesego Rampolokeng – vocals [track 11]
Mthunzi Mvubu – alto saxophone
Reza Khota – electric guitar
Siya Mthembu - vocals [track 5]
Tumi Mogorosi - drums
Tumi Pheko – trumpet

Voices
Brenda Thulo
Cecilia Phetoe
Charles Shikwambana
Fortunate Jwara
Noluthando Biyana
Sibongile Mollo
Steve Mthombeni
Tebogo Magwe
Themba Maseko - conductor
Thulisile Ntetha

All songs composed and arranged by Tumi Mogorosi, except tracks 5 & 10 (traditional song arranged by Tumi Mogorosi) and track 11 (musical work composed by Tumi Mogorosi & literary work authored by Lesego Rampolokeng)

Recorded by Peter Auret & Oyama Songo at the Downtown Music Hub, Johannesburg on 6 & 7 December 2021
Edited & Mixed by Dion Monti
Mastered by Norman Nitzsche at Calyx Mastering
Produced by Andile Yenana & Tumi Mogorosi
A&R by Andrew Curnow & Federico Bolza
Executive Produced by Andrew Curnow, Federico Bolza & Nhlanhla Masondo

Cover Photograph by Andrew Tshabangu

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Tumi Mogorosi Johannesburg, South Africa

Since his international debut on Jazzman Records in 2014 with Project ELO, Mogorosi has been in the vanguard of the South African creative music scene’s burgeoning outernational dimension, taking the drummer’s chair in both Shabaka Hutchings’ Shabaka and The Ancestors formation and with avant-garde noiseniks The Wretched. ... more

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