Splash

Ndosala

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    6
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AllMusic Review by

Ndosala is the South African take on house music and there's definitely a sameness to the sound -- all keyboards, drum machines, and vocals -- that will put limits on its appeal. But virtually every song has solid hooks, which indicates Splash knows what it's doing -- or better said, that Dan Tshanda knows what he's doing, because this is a one-man band affair with Tshanda writing all the songs, playing all the instruments, and producing. His approach is fairly consistent -- a keyboard (often organ, a distinct touch) melody starts, that ghostly house keyboard (à la "Show Me Love" by Robin S.) enters along with a drum machine snare and cymbals, followed by a four-on-the-floor bass drum thump. Then come vocals, the one department Tshanda doesn't handle, midsong breakdowns restart the process, and the Splash main man cannily keeps the songs between four and five minutes long to sustain interest. The title track's descending progression grooves well and the intertwined massed vocal parts -- it almost sounds like mbube harmonies filtered through a new South African youth music -- generate serious force on "Tshigombela." "Good Bye" is mediocre, lacking the snap and pizzazz that "New South Africa" achieves with the massed voices and the organ/synth keyboard blend working very well. "Wena Baby" goes the background wailing diva route with a touch of rap vocal and some dub minimalist arrangement moves, a technique reused on "Ngapha Na Ngapha [Remix]" to come up with a more interesting track. But "I've Found Someone New," an attempt at an English-lyric love song, falls flat despite strong keyboard hooks. World music fans looking for roots South Africa won't find it here, but Ndosala is a strong effort within its own sphere. It certainly should appeal to dance music fans interested in how the universal elements in house music sound filtered through other rhythmic traditions.

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