BYE by SEBA KAAPSTAD
Written by sessions on December 13, 2018
Cynicism is an easy sell. We’re skeptical of harmony because the news sows division, social media runs on scorn, and tangible reminders of good have become increasingly rare. Yet there are those whispered moments of unity, those artists who effortlessly embody the ideals of fusion –those who allow us to reap the rewards that can only yield from an embrace of different ideas, cultures, and sounds. This is the genius of Seba Kaapstad.
Seba Kaapstad is a multi-national neo-soul quartet comprised of a South African, a Swazi, and two Germans. They summon the most powerful manifestation of creativity: music that represents an idea. Their Mello Music debut album, Thina, takes its name from the Zulu word for “us.” It is a gorgeous halo of soul, encompassing several continents worth of sound, and obliterating the notion of genre. It is divined by artists whose lineage is riven with trauma and suffering. But like their ancestors, they endured. And only in this futuristic present could they reconcile the perseverance and turmoil of the past, using music to inspire unity and heal.
If the sonic roots lie in the tessaracts of eternal memory, Seba Kaapstad’s present-day genesis trace to 2013, the year that Sebastian Schuster arrived in Cape Town and immediately fell in the love with its rich cultural tapestry, legendary musical community, and artful chaos. He soon paired with the rest of the band—Zoe Modiga, Philip Scheibel (Pheel), Ndumiso Manana—developing the sort of telepathic chemistry can’t be replicated or really even explained.
They conjure beatific grooves that radiate with alluvial soul, celestial jazz, electronic experimentation and the polyrhythmic essence of Africa. It is marrow music, what digs beneath your bones, seeping into your bloodstream and inner visions. You hear flashes of the greats: Badu, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Jill Scott, and the Things Fall Apart-era Roots. You might even hear the ethereal float of Frank Ocean or the glowing bliss of Flying Lotus and Thundercat. But like all stellar quartets, Seba Kaapstad is indivisible and made stronger by the sum of their parts.
This is what Seba Kaapstad captures: the notion of the axis mundi, where all points converge, and all tensions dissolve into something that proves that reality can occasionally be suffused with pure beauty.