Batsumi – Lishonile {1974}


The perfect state to listen to “Lishonile” could be the one between asleep and awake, maybe sitting in the train heading home from work or alone at home in the dark too tired to sleep. Let yourself hand over to this 11 minutes long, meandering stream of (un-) consciousness. The spiritual jazz by the South African band Batsumi was first recorded in 1974 and was lost for decades until Matsuli Music reissued their debut album in 2013. The first pressing of 500 copies quickly sold out but the second from 2015 is still available on their Bandcamp page. The multifaceted album is full of surprises, so please don’t judge their music only by the track I chose. I can’t identify the horn-like instrument at the beginning of the track but it keeps blowing my mind – even after repeated listening. The Guardian knows that Batsumi were “led by a blind guitarist, Johnny Mothopeng, along with his keyboard-playing brother Lancelot and bassist Zulu Bidi.” Matsuli Music also reissued their second album Moving Along in 2014. Another great lengthy track of their debut, Itumeleng, can also be found on Strut Records’ compilation Next Stop… Soweto Vol. 3: Giants, Ministers And Makers: Jazz In South Africa 1963-1978.


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