Listening to Aytiwan (ft. Nes Mburu)’s newest release, Ilanga is an explorative experience. House stylings with worldly influences create a down-to-earth emotive rhythm that bounces through the tracks. Aytiwan delivers a textural overload with these songs, lapping hand drums and vocal patterns over a techno wave beat. The album feels alive, like it's breathing you in, as you follow its melodies from section to section.
The album revolves around one track which is masterfully pushed, pulled, twisted and turned to allow for various remixes that focus on varying parts of the track. The original mix opens up the album, almost like the first chapter of a book; one that delves into the mind of a sonic nation of thinkers and movers. The mix blasts with chest-pounding bass and toe-tapping rhythms from the outset and glides from mark to mark. Quieter sections reveal to us the inner workings of the beat, strip away the house drums and you will find layer upon layer of percussive frills and vocal harmonies. Once you build the song back up, your ear catches them alighting on a tone now and then, a nod to the previous sections.
Looking at this song, titled after the album itself, Ilanga, I can’t help but picture it visually as a topographical sound map. The crests of the builds are visible from a mile away but are no less impressive when you finally arrive. Taking note for example the radio edit, the majority of which is build up. The song grips you, and puts you on its rails, guiding you to the perfect moment for the song's real melodic message to kick in. When it does it's a doozy. The bass hits the floor, and the highs take a more structured path as the vocals bleat out a rhythm that ties the whole vibe together. Add to this mashing of House and Afro-Pop some dark synth pads, and we’re in business.
Aytiwan’s approach alongside Nes Mburu is wholly unique. Creating a track that is so varied and inspired takes a lot of work, and it shows. The whole album gleams together as a set of stories told through the medium of collaborative sound. Each mix adds its own special something, be it the Enoo Napa Remix that focuses more on the synth and modern drums, or the Alternative Mix that adds a more structured feeling to the song, focusing on the build rather than the climax. After this could maybe get to be too much, we are given the Klaudius Remix that adds a sense of serenity to the song through careful use of piano sounds and a climbing percussive section. This mix focuses on the vocals and the emotions that they shift between as the song progresses. Sad sections are covered in rain and the clouds part to show the sun to the happier sections.
Together, this album showcases a song being born and proves that no one idea can outshine another. Each remix of the original core sound is different yet well-rounded. They could all stand strong on their own. Together, however, they are ever more impressive the deeper you delve.