Out Now on Riverboat Records: Sotho Sounds - Junk Funk
Sotho Sounds are funky shepherds from the Kingdom of Lesotho who have quite literally invented their own music, crafted their own instruments and now continue to follow their own mission – turning junk into funk.
Junk Funk is their debut album and perfectly captures the excitement and humorous bounce of their live performances. The eccentric band met whilst shepherding in the lofty hills of Lesotho, a landlocked enclave surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. Junk Funk is one of the first international recordings to come from Lesotho and is set to spread the unmistakeable Sotho Sounds worldwide.
'Their approach may be rough and ready but their energy and enthusiasm are contagious ... I'd like to see them live'.
Robin Denselow, The Guardian
'Staff Benda Bilili and Konono No 1 have set the homemade instrumentalist's bar high, but this lot leap it with easy grace' The Independent
Stream the track Ha Kele Monateng here:
Sotho Sounds play instruments crafted out of recycled materials. Their guitars are made from tin-cans and bicycle wire, and rattle melodiously alongside the fuzzed ring of one-string fiddles and the thud and boom of their drums. Atop the mix, swinging unison vocals bring to mind the hugely popular choral tradition of Lesotho. Sotho Sounds also weave the sounds of their everyday life into the music - listen closely and you can hear everything from the jangle of their home-made guitars, to the hum and shatter of the percussion, to the bark of a dog, an accordion, whistles and more. Stumbling across the band, don’t be surprised to find them in traditional Basotho blankets, or instead decked out in gumboots, rainbow-framed shades and, if you are lucky, a neon-pink wig.
The subject matter of their lively songs draws on the social issues and experiences of their everyday lives at home in Lesotho and while travelling abroad. ‘Something To Think About’ was inspired by their travels in England. Amused by everyone constantly asking them, ‘How are you?’ and ‘What are you thinking?’, they decided to write a song in order to give them ‘something to think about’. ‘Ha Kele Monateng’ translates as ‘When I’m Happy’ and is a bright, positive number with catchy call-and-response vocals. ‘Ntheke Ntheke’ (or ‘The Sun Is About To Set’) is a stunning a cappella track that is reminiscent of South African isicathamiya.
Sotho Sounds cite the influence of Basotho traditional music and South African pop, especially the bubblegum pop stylings of Brenda Fassie. Yet ultimately the band is remarkable because of their fierce innovative streak – they have literally built their music from the ground up. Their home-made sound bestows their music with a deeply personal edge – every fibre of the sound was crafted by them, from the slap of the strings, to the crash of drums, to the call of the voice. This is raw Sotho Sounds. Let the Junk Funkrevolution begin.
Here is a video of Sotho Sounds playing their unmistakeable music live in Lesotho:
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New City Music, Chicago: 'a great showcase of the funky sounds currently made in Crescent City'.
The Guardian, UK, 3*** stars: 'A classy compilation'.
Guardian, UK 4****stars: 'A highly original, compelling set'.
Froots, UK: '... a superb album of an under-represented music ... and comes highly recommended'.