Countless artists have warned us that love stories tend not to finish well; Bongeziwe Mabandla joins their ranks. His new album iimini starts on 14th November 2016 with the moving meeting of a man and a woman and finishes on 12th April 2019 with the split of a couple. Mabandla delicately explores the contrasting emotions of a love story through guitars and transparent piano, lead vocals and backing choirs, sensual percussion and dreamlike electronic textures.
It's difficult to find a flaw with this work that was harmoniously constructed with the help of Mozambican producer Tiago Correia-Paulo (Tumi and The Volume, Continuadores). The songs enter into dialogue with one another, building a coherently contrasting narrative. Sometimes, the rhythms are beefed up, like on the single jikeleza, or masiziyekelele whose second half portrays the dancing euphoria of the beginning of a relationship. The lyrics and the refined orchestration are accompanied by everyday sounds: a bustling road, a bird's call, a piercing trumpet are interspersed with the lovers' bedsheets or a lonesome pillow. The work is intimate, but nowhere near being static.
There are certain moments on iimini where several atmospheres occupy space on the same track. A sleek folk couplet will precede a Zulu rhythm, or a hip-hop groove will transform into a melancholic tune. However this story of heartbreak is not without hope: you get the feeling that eventually, once the tears have dried and the heart has healed, there will remain a tender memory of happiness.