A Taste of the Soil
by Edumisa Makhonco
THE SOIL begins in darkness so when the lights go up it’s quite a surprise to see there are only three people onstage. Part of the reason for this South African acappella group’s ability to make a bigger sound than you might expect from three voices is their human beat box, who combines the percussive effects with impressively rich passing notes that add to the choral quality of their singing.
This South African trio describe themselves as a “four-member acapella group” – the fourth, invisible member of the band being “the Creator of All”. The name derives from the notion that God sculpted the land, and that Buhlebendalo Mda, Ntsika Fana Ngxanga and Luphindo Ngxanga are the soil through which you might hear His voice, if you’re in the mood to listen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7VMbfoHkMw
It’s the kind of thing that usually makes this atheist want to run a mile, but The Soil don’t labour the point – they’re too busy just putting the idea into action, with some of the most gorgeous – and clever – music you’ll hear this Fringe. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rd8j-kiNOO0
And if ‘three-piece a cappella group’ makes you wonder whether the sound might be a little thin, think again. Their mastery lies in the fact that they’re all ardent multi-taskers. Luphindo, for instance, simultaneously hums robust bass-lines whilst beat-boxing. Ntsika Fana Ngxanga, with his soulful solo voice, effortlessly switches to an androgynous falsetto that complements the female member of the group, Buhlebendalo Mda, whenever necessary. Even Mda herself flits between spotlighted chanteuse and textural supplement throughout the course of the show.
The Soil sing about love, good times and community rather than God – the only direct reference to their fourth member being an early ode to joy, and all the ways that people find it. This is properly uplifting but also smart and sophisticated music. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UJEH4GbtQk
The Soil are soulful a cappella outfit for whom joy is the primary (and perhaps only) objective. Not only is ‘Joy’ the title of a track from their debut album, but it’s a word that describes them.
The Soil is currently working on their new album which has a special tribute to Miriam Makheba. In their album there is a song about a resolution made by band-member Luphindo Ngxanga’s girlfriend to leave him come the New Year—sounds a little like celebration.
To them joy is what structures their music and is what brings them together. So if you are keen on listening to their music grab your self their album “joy”.