Desire Marea’s ‘On The Romance Of Being’ Channels The Healing Powers Of Music

[Cover photo credit to Tatenda Chidora]

South Africa-based artist Desire Marea has released his new album On the Romance of Being through Mute. With the release of the album came a third single,“Mfula”, which highlights “an emotionally-destructive relationship with casual sex.”

Marea’s second album embraces the “communal, ceremonial and healing qualities of music.” Throughout the last two years, the Amandawe-based artist trained as a Sangoma, a traditional Nguni spiritual healer. This connection to spirits and ancestors is one that “encapsulates the knowledge of the universe and redresses spiritual imbalances on the living plane.”

Marea elaborates:

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.

The new album was recorded live with an ensemble of thirteen musicians, many songs being first takes. The band includes award-winning Sibusiso Mashiloane and Sbu Zondi, 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.

Athi-Patra Ruga, the artist behind the album’s artwork, set out to create a piece that “embodies eroticism as a lifeforce.”

Prior to his solo output, Marea formed a part of 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 partnered with Versace to soundtrack their S/S 2019 menswear show.

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