Photo: Rethabile Ts’eiso-Phakisi

Johannesburg collective SPAZA will release their self-titled debut album on June 21 via local label Mushroom Hour Half Hour

SPAZA is a band with no permanent personnel, with each lineup assembled for the purpose of recording one-off improvised or workshopped material. For this initial salvo, SPAZA was put together from a group of musicians with individual and collective links to Johannesburg’s jazz, afro-funk, and experimental electro scenes, namely Nosisi Ngakane (vocals, effects), Ariel Zamonsky (upright bass), Siya Makuzeni (vocals, effects, trombone), Gontse Makhene (percussion, vocals), João Orecchia (synthesizers, electronics), and Waldo Alexander (electric violin w/ effects pedal). 

The group recorded the album at the Spaza Gallery in Troyeville, Johannesburg, live in one take during the autumn of 2015. It’s said to evoke a spirit of independence, the propensity for spontaneity, and a coming together of like minds. 

The album’s title is named after South Africa’s thousands of informal neighborhood stores. “Spaza” has come to signify an entrepreneurial spirit, especially in the country’s black townships where economic barriers to business ownership mean that only a few can attain the status of formal business ownership. In the country’s socio-political context, spazas, usually operating out of converted garages, shacks, or repurposed shipping containers, are also contested territories, and sites of often fatal bloodshed where financially disenfranchised South Africans routinely mete out their frustrations. However, spazas are also colourful, often styled and designed by each owner. They become the nerve centres of social activity in the communities and are often stocked with an array of iconic South African brands and products, many of which are referenced in the album’s track names. 

SPAZA LP comes pressed on 180gram vinyl and also digitally. Ahead of its June 21 release, pre-order is available here, with the first two singles streaming below.


01. Magwinya, Mangola neWhite Liver

02. Sunlight, Glycerine, 2 loose draws

03. Five Rand Airtime nama-eveready: 4000 degrees 

04. Tigerbalm Nobuhlebakho [interlude]

05. Ice Squinchies: Waiting for you 

06. Invocations [interlude]

07. Stametta Spuit: Invocations