Opinion Review

Uncle Spike: I in the Sky

Anglo-Boer sensationalism: this is the genre beneath which Stellenbosch-hailing 7-piece Uncle Spike claim to fall. If that isn’t enough to pique your interest, how about the fact that the opening track of the debut album, ‘ Mind Body Soul’ is a three-minute cello solo, backed by the ephemeral strains of chirping birds.

With the intention of exploring South Africa’s music scene from as many angles as possible, ‘I in the Sky’ is an offering which which blends jazz, reggae, punk and rock influences with inherent intent – the result of which is an 11-track album which bridges genre-spectrums and language barriers alike.

Each track finds its respective niche within the offering, slipping from piano-centric Afrikaans ballads (‘Hou Net Vas’) fringed in saxaphone strains, to the psych-rock influenced, rap-style storyboard of ‘Black Wolves’. The latter finds its footing in a multi-paced prod at societal strains on the youth of today – “In east Africa in the mid-eighties / lived a little family with a lot of babies / living was so easy / and living was stress-free / but then came the money and the black-and-white TVs.”

The genre of the album is tricky to pin down at times. ‘Lavender Experience’ navigates high-tone vocals and an indie-jazz influence, while ‘ERXN’ encapsulates a frantic rock pace, backed by easy rap vocals.

‘Bacon Avo Egg’ is a cheeky track about the munchies and a deliciously unproductive, easy day, while ‘Zaan Kulture’ is an Afrikaans, love-hate ode to cigarettes – “Marlboro Gold / Pall Mall / dis net nikotien wat deur by brein rol.” Following suit with pert zest, ‘High’ opens with the click of a lighter and a healthy inhale as jazzy, classical stirrings build the foundation for a languid rap – which somehow develops into a rollicking rock conclusion as he spits, “I was born in 97 so I’m young as hell / they’re confused ’cos a laaitjie can rap so well.”

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Listen to the album below on Apple Music.