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Spoek Mathambo: Escape from ’85

Over the past few years, Spoek Mathambo has established himself as a serious talent, combining an eye-catching visual sense, a culture jamming afro-futurist aesthetic, and genuine musical ability into a fascinating whole. While Spoek has filled the time since the 2012’s “Father Creeper” with a string of remixes and SA only releases, his latest mixtape, “Escape From ’85,” represents the most substantive body of work that we’ve heard- or seen- from him in a while.

The mix is a nostalgic headtrip, fusing Tom-Tom Club style bass and synth riddims with their 90’s hip-hop echoes before falling down the rabbit hole completely, and awakening next the eeriely slo-mo ballad of “Cherrie Moon.” In between, there is full on kwaito style dance, screwed and chopped vocals, 808 workouts, swirling rhythm guitar samples, period perfect recreations, and a healthy helping of the electro rap style that Spoek has put to excellent effect elsewhere. At this point, most pop fans are probably pretty sick of 80’s revivalism, but this mix proves that, done correctly, the decade has more than enough juice left for the year or two until we move fully into the 90’s. 

Spoek being Spoek, the packaging around the mix goes the extra distance, including a fully playable video game in the style of the 2D shoot-em-ups that accompanied this music the first time around. While it’s sort of a gimmick, it’s a pretty frickin cool one. Especially the floating face-things, which are rad.

Give the mix a listen, and check out the game HERE.

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