The debut, self-titled release from Cape Town duo John Wizards is a collaborative effort between bedroom producer John Withers and Rwandan vocalist Emmanuel Nzaramba. The music Withers creates has a combination of influences ranging from South African house, funk with synth-heavy electronics, and fidgety, West African electric guitars. The album opens with the piano-tinkered "Tek Lek Schrempf," ending in a climactic guitar solo neatly rolling into the synth-pop of "Lusaka by Night," featuring Auto-Tuned vocals in Nzaramba's native Kinyarwandan language. Both tracks manage to flow seamlessly into one another while being stylistically different, which is a running theme throughout this album, taking you on a journey through Africa and beyond and never ending up in the same place. Other tracks here see glimpses of Shangaan Electro "(Limpop)," Hudson Mohawke-esque '80s synth "(Leuk)," as well as Arthur Russell-style vocals ("I'm Still a Serious Guy"). Although we can reference the influences, John Wizards create music in their own style and unmistakably theirs, casually switching genres and changing rhythms with ease. The album may take continuous listens due to its unpredictability, but it's a very refreshing and intriguing debut, one that will make a good soundtrack for summer.
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AllMusic Review by James Pearce