Review

Duncan Park’s latest EP, Umbilo Primitive, is an instrumental tribute to his Durban suburb

Have you ever wondered what a suburb might sound like in the mind of a musician? Duncan Park did, and listened, and put it all to the multitude of instruments he wields, to make it come to life.

The suburb in question is Umbilo, Durban. Umlilo Primitive is inspired by and written for the landscapes and animals of the densely vegetated patch of civilization. Park’s sound is expansive and singular at the same time. Simplistic and yet resounding. Acid blues and psych folk meet the sort of African primitive guitar style pioneered by the likes of John Fahey and Robbie Basho. It’s intricate and solid.

The result of the EP is both a homage to a place, and a tribute to the instrument used to translate it into sound. Each track centers solely around one. Orbaphone rules opener “Vervets on the Street”, while woody, metallic kalimba chimes out “Lullaby”. When the banjo swings into play in “The Assassination of Cameron Lofstrand” it is unsettling and almost fevered. He breaks out the 12-string guitar too, to pluck undulating, quick fingered melodies.

The EP harks of leafy streets and sprawling trees, cemeteries and monkeys hanging from branches. It’s raw and rough around the edges, simplistic and singular but entirely wholesome.