Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A new format of Setswana folk music

Ntirelang ‘NT’ Berman, releases his debut, Maloba, at perhaps the highest peak contemporary Setswana pop music has ever reached. When Machesa Traditional Troupe debuted six years ago, they inadvertently created the blueprint of how traditional music was to be programmed electronically for years to come.

Berman is an artist offering a different approach to traditional music. Being a self-taught guitarist he didn’t rely on computer programmed loops and bloops. Nor is he sticking to the tried and tested dance driven format. Berman has embraced in his music, his Selete cultural influence. Selete music and dance (mmino wa dinaka) is unhurried compared to other popular traditional dance forms.

A majority of songs on his album are vocals accompanied by a sole guitar. One of the highlights on the album is Mmampudi, which is an adaptation of a children’s play song and a Setswana saying, Mmampudi ga a ipone, selo se mo tlhogong, equivalent to: the pot calling the kettle black. Berman speaks of three women and their misguided trials and errors (or virtues in some circles) with the opposite sex.

Another highlight is Lebotlanyana, on which he attempted to mix rhythm patterns of traditional musics from across the country. In it, he features Kabo Leburu on guitar, Kabelo Motswakae on vocals and percussions by Banyanabotlhe Moalosi. Moratiwa, an amorous song, is one track that particularly has world music appeal with Reynold Kasawali on guitar and Kabo Leburu on harmonica.
The album makes for good relaxed listening as the tracks are unhurried and airy.

Maloba was recorded by at Live Wire Studio in Ramotswa and self produced by Berman and released, marketed and distributed by Morethetho-O.

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Read this week's paper

The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.