Review

Laliboi X Volume’s Xam EP beams with fierce spirit, boldly reimagining its cultural colours

Referring to the skin of a monitor lizard used by traditional healers in SA, Laliboi and Volume’s (Saul Nossel) Xam boldy reimagines its cultural colours.

The duo met in 2015 through their respective bands Radio 123 & Go Barefoot, getting together to record title track “Xam” with Morena Lereba in 2018. You might say the rest is history. They’ve gone on to work with brilliant musicians, including Daniel Basckin, Noah Bamberger and Thamsanqa Ngwenya, and bring us an EP that beams with versatility.

Each track is its own experience, alongside conversations of spirituality, cultural differences and mental health. “Xam” draws on the earlier influences of African chorus but with a renewed vitality that bands like BCUC have so fiercely pioneered. “Madlamini” gives way to tender acoustics and soulful vocals, filling the simple melodies with hopeful melancholy, culminating in closer “Isigubhu Asipheli”. It’s a stifling seven minutes long, each second a darkly immersive beat where Laliboi and Volume throw caution to the wind, their unstoppable flow shining through.

It’s records like this that remind me of just how formidable SA’s music scene has grown to become, with cross-collaborations like these the way of the future.