Spoek Mathambo Mshini Wam

Stepping up to represent the burgeoning electro house scene pulsing in South Africa, and branching off from his role as frontman of electro-hip-hop outfit Sweat.X, Spoek Mathambo's debut, Mshini Wam, floats between bringing a progressive sound to the genre while still retaining the roots of the country's culture and traditional music scene. Mshini Wam hits some potholes along the way, however, throwing Mathambo's gutter-mouthed musings alongside tracks that deserve repeat listening. The siren-esque glitches and tribal drumming that bleed through "Gwababa" serve as an appropriate opener and precursor to "Mshini Wam," working a simple beat with an overlay of sliding synths. Rhythmic, automated gunfire spews across "Mshini Wam pt. 2," folding into crisp snare and spectral emanations, while "Let Them Talk" exhales lush percussion and a pulsating background. Where Mshini Wam comes to a screeching halt are on tracks like "Don't Mean To Be Rude," one of the more curbed tracks on the album, whose chorus and ridiculous lyrics leave something to be desired, and "Douchebag Club," which bypasses all mystery and subtlety with its title, and whose lyrics don't stray far either. While some numbers definitely stand out, the album is lacking the spark it needs to raise it above mediocre. (BBE)