People Who Are Addicted To Music
by paul lester
Where You From: Cape Town, South Africa.
Members: John Withers (music), Emmanuel Nzaramba (vocals), with live assistance from Geoff Brink, Tom Parker, John Withers, Alex Montgomery and Raphael Segerman.
What’s Your Story: Take one multi-instrumentalist and a singer who used to work as a car guard and you probably wouldn’t guess the results would sound much like the self-titled debut album by John Wizards. Then again, nothing much sounds like the self-titled debut album by John Wizards. It is a record that simultaneously nods to traditional African music and world music in general, while acknowledging developments in electronica in all its myriad forms from across the past few decades. There are snippets – term used deliberately, because often they will alight on a rhythmic or instrumental phrase before zipping off in another direction entirely – of 80s funk, dub reggae, slow-jam R&B, Shangaan electro, Tropicalia, Congolese rumba, Mali meditative music, Hawaiian exotica and African house. Sometimes they sound like a synthpop duo pretending to be a nine-piece prog outfit masquerading as jazz-funk virtuosos, at other times like a techno act doing an impression of a metal band.
We’ve seen 25-year-old main man John Withers described as “an uncannily modern figure”, and perhaps he is, if by modern they mean someone capable of replicating any number of a multiplicity of past genres at will. He composed and recorded the album in his bedroom armed with just a guitar, a condenser microphone and a few computer programs. And although he has a band for live performances, virtually every note on John Wizards is his, with the exception of the vocals, which he shares with Rwandan singer Emmanuel Nzaramba.