For some, thoughts form through words. For others, like the Kiaat Ensemble, they form through music. Such is apparent in the musician’s newest offering In No Perfect Time. Upon Ralph Louis Smit’s time spent under the tutelage of the late Smiles Makama, the eSwatini inventor of the Smilophone, the Kiaat Ensemble, based on the Kalimba which comes from the Mbira, compiled recordings that are a result of reflection and healing.
These recordings include samples from Smit’s real experiences, like protests and hearing a lecture on climate change. There’s much to digest in this album – the music says a lot, so it’s best to take it in layers. Listen once to hear just the sounds, and listen again to absorb the messages.
Very zen and introspective to start, Smit uses natural sounds to create a new world for listeners, like the wind and the rain heard in “Change Is In The Nature Of Things.” Proving to be a sonic expert, eSwatini’s electronic music scene is showcased on tracks like “Dancing In The Shadows, which marries electronic with natural sounds.
The brilliance of this maestro’s ability to use music as means to inspire change is highlighted in “Retrospection,” where the aforementioned lecture on climate change is overshadowed by the melody that builds in urgency as the track continues. Smit is pleading with us – if we don’t act now, will it be too late?
And we can’t forget the Secret Souls remixes. These three end-of-album tracks, remixed by a producer in rural eSwatini, cement the Kiaat Ensemble as a master of his craft. If Smit’s goal was to prove his country creates as valuable electronic music as any other in the world, it was certainly achieved.