Ask anyone at Worldwide Festival 2017 who their surprise package was and, invariably, the answer will be BCUC. Even if they weren’t at the sparingly-attended early evening set, it was so talked about in the following days, it’s better to just say you were there. BCUC were such unknown entities at the time that festival goers could scarcely remember the order of their four letters, but by the end of the week, theirs was a name you couldn’t hear enough of.
BCUC – short for Bantu Continua Uluru Consciousness – are a seven-piece from Soweto and like nothing you’ve heard before. In a live setting, their music is about as hedonistic as it gets, but they take their roles as mouthpieces for political and spiritual liberation very seriously. It’s unavoidable to compare their 20 minute, funk modulations to Fela, but this is a politically-charged protest not content imitating another time from another part of Africa. Informed by South African greats like Philip “Malombo” Tabane and Batsumi, hip-hop influences and punk-rock energy are ever-present as they address real and serious issues for modern Africans; namely the struggles of the poor and uneducated. A sound as unsentimental and singular as theirs is deserves it’s own name to match, which the band have been quick to supply themselves: Africangungungu. For listeners new to BCUC and their latest album Emakhosini – from which ‘Moya’ is lifted – this is music that deserves more than a few frivolous skips to find something rewarding. The greatest satisfaction comes through engaging fullly with what BCUC have to say and marvelling at the courage of their convictions.
Emakhosini is out 6th April on Buda Musique. The band perform at Rich Mix, London on 10th April.