Mamngo
Uxam


5.0
classic

Review

by America's Favorite Hemophobe! ♦ USER (5 Reviews)
April 3rd, 2020 | 12 replies


Release Date: 2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The album you would never hear.

It seemingly doesn't want to be heard. Although littered upon all streaming services, next to no listens have been had. But Uxam exists with no deterrence, simply waiting.

Since her debut and singular release, Mamngo has been somewhat of an intriguing thought lingering in my brain. Her brilliance captivated me instantly, creating a lasting moment that I frequently must revisit. There is no other musical equivalent, no replacement that comes close to delivering in the same way, the feeling Mamngo bestows upon me: pure happiness.

And yet, it was never meant to be, for anyone else. Unfortunately, her hindrances outweigh her genius. Firstly, exposure is the largest concern. Uxam has seemingly no publicity, advertisement, or attention drawing to itself. Beyond the songs themselves having been posted online, there are no other traces of Mamngo's music. In fact, Spotify provides no results, insisting I want to listen to Mango, until I type in both her name and album. The only mention of her that I could find online was a possible Mamngo match on Facebook, who owns a Wedding and Catering service in Johannesburg, South Africa. I'm waiting to hear back from her, to confirm that it is the same Mamngo--but the photo of her with three friends does look similar to the one of her on the album cover. I was only able to stumble upon this rarity by listening to a randomized playlist on Spotify. In other words, I was endlessly panning for gold and found a diamond.

Another difficulty presented here is instrument choice. I'm not sure what is standard production in South Africa, but superior sounds were either not provided by Big Boy Records, or Mamngo knew her sheer brilliance wouldn't be hindered by using the very first sound samples she found. She deploys a variety of electronic instrument substitutions and beats, in addition to what sound like real instruments, to assemble her vision of a full, kwaito/afro-zouk band. The result is a clear recording, but a cheesy, almost Randy-Newman-esque feel. Did this stop her from creating a masterpiece? Absolutely not. She delivers jazzy bass, melodica, marimbas, and flutes in the most delightfully catchy way possible. There's no mention that those are the actual instruments used, so discern for yourself.

In the album's first moments, the title track, “Uxam,” hits heavy on the melodica. Initial notes are more reminiscent of a 90's Playskool keyboard, but it quickly opens up into fuller acoustics accompanied by her signature knocking drum beats and slapping jazz bass. It sets a good tone for the upcoming collage of flavorful songs, and for the second track, “Matshitshi.”

“Matshitshi,” is also my favorite track on the album. It begins with what is essentially an interlude. A somber Afrikaan folky sound transitions into saxophone, then it abruptly escapes into a bright, joyful melody. The following hook is the most memorable on the album and has the tendency to stick in my head for days. Since I don't speak Afrikaan, I just like to sing, “Oh, banana boat,” alongside the plucked guitar, tambourine, and what sounds like bongos.

There are a few more surprises on the album, like the Caribbean-style steel drum sounds in, “Amadoda,” and what I interpret as faux-falsetto in album closer, “Imikhuba.” The three instrumental versions of previous tracks at the end of the album are a treat, but really add nothing unless you enjoy Karaoke for a language you probably don't speak.

Uxam is a great break away from common listening habits, and possibly what you need to shake off a bad day. It's a head-bopping, body-swaying, lively gem, weaving between the traditional and contemporary sounds of South Africa.

Update 2020/4/3: This review is now the number 1 google result for "Mamngo Uxam." No response yet on Facebook.

Genre: Kwaito
Trve Rating: 4.8/5
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/4V3w9rprdPzvGlLqMmiyLw
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkvBnLpuN30


user ratings (3)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
bloodshy
April 3rd 2020


2726 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"thu" slaps

parksungjoon
April 3rd 2020


25361 Comments


not listed on rym or discogs.com huh, very interesting

i see the band page you must have added has the "drum and bass" tag, is this really true?

Digging: Government - Shitshitshit [japanese death poem]

Archelirion
April 3rd 2020


6275 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thu is an absolute BOP holy shit

Nice write-up of something that could quite easily have just gotten lost forever. Really enjoying this so far, thanks for writing it :]

bloodshy
April 3rd 2020


2726 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

No, it's not really drum and bass, but that's the closest i could find

bloodshy
April 3rd 2020


2726 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Glad you checked them out arche =)

Archelirion
April 3rd 2020


6275 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Finished. Light, easy to listen to and fun. Hopefully she gets back to you and it is her :]

bloodshy
April 3rd 2020


2726 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Then I fly to Johannesburg and we get married. It's just like that one movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

bloodshy
April 3rd 2020


2726 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Can we talk about the cover art?

Archelirion
April 4th 2020


6275 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Might as well. It's certainly pretty lively, and looks made by someone's uncle who is 'definitely shit hot at graphic design, trust me'

bloodshy
April 4th 2020


2726 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Would have been sweet if she actually posed in front of a traditional African cloth with her instruments. But i guess the cover more closely resembles the music. Concise, quasi traditional, and partially artificial.

kevbogz
April 6th 2020


2655 Comments


Thu makes me feel

bloodshy
April 8th 2020


2726 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks everyone, for bringing up Mamngo's monthly listeners from 1 to 10.



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