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  • Writer's pictureBulelwa Mthombothi


By: Bulelwa Mthombothi

XAM By Laliboi x Volume

XAM is a collaborative EP by Sipho Nkondlwane – who goes by the stage name Laliboi – and Saul Nossel (Volume) of Go Barefoot fame. The EP which was released exclusively on Bancamp (it will see a multi-platform release soon) boasts appearances by Morena Lechaba as a feature on two tracks, namely the title song Xam and Isighubhu Asipheli.

The title of the EP refers to the skin of the monitor lizard, which is used by traditional healers in their medicinal and healing practices. The title is described on Bandcamp in the context of the EP as “the healing power of music and connects it to how we may all find spirituality in any form we choose and to respect all cultures, traditions and outlooks on the world.

This is pertinent to the themes of the EP, relating to mental illness in the black

community and how when one exhibits signs of it, it is often labelled as an indication of an ancestral calling. It is like two sides of a coin speaking to how we view mental illness as something only white people go through and how rarely traditional healing is viewed as a viable avenue for mental health welfare.

This is evident in the title track Xam which sounds like a ritual taking place. There is an intense stillness that you can hear as the word “Amayeza” is chanted throughout to no instrumental accompaniment save for what sounds like a traditional tambourine and the clapping of hands. As it plays you can almost feel the fire burning, you can hear shuffling as people dance around it, while the smoke billows and spirits fill the air.

Every track has its own way of delivering on a sound that boasts its African heritage in the lyrics - as Laliboi’s style of rap encapsulates his kwaito influences as well as displaying his prowess as a Xhosa storyteller. It is almost like a folk tale told in four chapters. There is a feeling of home disguised as a refuge from the clutches of Western sounds but fully living in the present, a contemporary foray into African spirituality and symbolism. This is particularly evident in the electronic-sounding Isighubu Aspheli, which translated into English means “The drums/sound does not end”. It is like the journey of one’s life, that is never ending until it ends, which is to say we are constantly growing. The music showcases both artist’s growth musically and the maturity of the sound they have compacted into this offering.

A tale of the journey of a young man going through a period of self- discovery,

contending with the spirits of self and those of his ancestors. It’s an eclectic and

special offering from two of South Africa’s experimental independent musicians

whose past projects are reflected in the soul of the album. You can feel the

buoyancy of the music, in the production, it sounds like music best experienced in performance, live band and all. The sound is so full it deserves to be heard at a music festival, sweat trickling down one’s back as they are transported elsewhere by the spiritual prowess of the music and it’s healing nature, essentially music is XAM!

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