Today Desire Marea has shared a second track from the forthcoming new album ‘On The Romance Of Being’, which is set for release on April 7th via Mute.
Following the striking track and accompanying video, “Be Free“, which explores queer love within the realms of South Africa’s hyper-masculine world of taxi gangs, today he shares the delicate and brooding 8-minute epic, “Rah“. Sung entirely in Zulu, the track is a powerfully stirring cry on the planet and human interference. “Mother is wounded / And the long awaited day will soon come” Desire ruefully cries, calling for a new dawn.
“Rah is a song lamenting the decay of the earth and the anxiety of existing in it, with it, and as it” he comments. “Is self cannibalisation just the order of nature? Is it part of the healing? Is there renewal on the other side of disaster? Still, we beg for repentance.”
‘Rah‘ features fellow KwaZulu Natal artist, Zoë Modiga, the South African jazz singer whose incredible vocals weave alongside Desire’s to bring a whole new dimension to the storytelling, as well as contributions from South African opera singer Ann Masina.
Desire Marea‘s voice is a culmination of many South African voices; a mouthpiece for a choir of spirits and entities. His second album ‘On the Romance of Being‘ is immersed in the communal, ceremonial and healing qualities of music.
Throughout the last two years, the Amandawe based artist trained as Sangoma, a traditional Nguni spiritual healer. Becoming sangoma is not vocational, one must be called on by spirit. It is for one’s own spirit to die and become a vessel for others. This connection to spirits and ancestors is one that encapsulates the knowledge of the universe and redresses spiritual imbalances on the living plane. “In my work as a sangoma, ancient songs and drumming sequences are used to invoke spirits who live in me so I enter into a trance state. In my work as a musician, I heal people using music. It’s a different kind of medicine but one in which I often have to channel different spirits, different truths and the essence of light.”
Desire’s solo eponymous debut (2020) traversed electronic genres in an introspective exploration of modern love and loss. In contrast, the new album was recorded live with an ensemble of thirteen musicians, many songs being first take: “My ancestors gave me an instruction to record this with a live band. The reasoning? It was a way to ensure that the music carried the soul. We were all united in the most intimate parts of our consciousness. The music made us one.” The band includes award winning Sibusiso Mashiloane and Sbu Zondi being pioneers of the Durban/Joburg jazz scene as well as Portia Sibiya, Andrei Van Wyk and Sanele Ngubane, prominent actors in South Africa’s experimental music circles. The union of these souls birthed eight movements that sonically sprawl post-gospel, spiritual jazz and the ancient music of the Nguni and Ndau peoples.
Athi-Patra Ruga, the artist behind the album’s artwork, embodies eroticism as a lifeforce in the oil piece. The artwork was influenced by Rotimi Fani Kayode who defined African queerness through his photography, the leathers of actor Bobby Blake and 19th century Xhosa prophetess uNongqawuse, whose visions arose amidst Strelitzia (crane flowers). Ruga comments “The erotics of his intellect are evident in how we are beckoned to “levitate”, stripping old skin and entering new bodies and plains. This access point is what led me to celebrate this transition. I wanted to be of service to document the processes they went through in their ukuvuma (admission) and also the seductive instructions that are in the lyrics.”
Prior to his solo output, Desire formed a part of beloved Joburg collective FAKA, who toured the world extensively, including appearances at the 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art; Unsound Festival (PL); Roskilde (DK); Sonar (ES); and Dark Mofo (AU). They made their American debut scoring for the brand Telfar at NYFW, and achieved icon status by partnering with Versace to soundtrack their S/S 2019 menswear show. FAKA were also included in Vogue World 100 and Dazed 100 lists.
‘On the Romance of Being‘ is an epoch, as Desire Marea journeys through a multiplicity of identities and elicits a sincere conversation between the erotic and spiritual. Reflecting on his latest work, ultimately his truth as a vessel, Desire states “every grain in a sandstorm is a moving mountain”.
Desire Marea’s ‘On the Romance of Being‘is out April 7th 2023 on Mute.
‘On The Romance Of Being’ track list:
2. Be Free