There’s something undeniably depressing about the bleak apartheid architecture – the tatty Regent’s Park Hotel; Triompf’s faceless flats; Parktown’s cold concrete constructions – that comprises the artwork of ‘Sorry For The Delay’. And yet, in Ross Garrett’s striking photographs, the gloomy buildings have a haunting beauty.
Not unlike 340ml’s songs. Their sublime music – an effortless confluence of jazz, reggae, Latin, dub and rock elements – is clearly for grooving. But beneath the good vibes lingers an unshakable melancholy, a similar sadness to that suggested by a deserted park in RandPark Ridge or the stark skyline of Brixton.
It’s a combination that makes for a superb second album, one that’s both soundtrack to a good time and sophisticated Sunday morning companion. As guitarist Tiago Paulo says: “Music must be art”. This Mozambican quartet’s second album certainly is. “It’s about being creative and pushing it all the time.”
And push they do. Not that you’d notice – the playing may be intricate and the influences diverse, but there’s nothing forced about their organic sound. The rhythm section’s sunset groove intertwines delicately with the gentle guitar vibes and brass blasts, with the synth stabs and hazy vocals adding a distinct, modern twist.
It’s simply sublime as is, and yet the quartet of Paulo Jorge Chibanga, Rui Soeiro, Tiago Paulo and Pedro Pinto can’t help but push their sound through frequent collaborations.
Virtuoso saxophonist Moriera Chonguica takes over from multi-instrumentalist Ben Amato on the jubilant ‘Make It Happen’, bringing a jazzy vibe to fellow guest Thandisa Mazwai’s earthy vocals. Tidal Waves engulf the introspective ‘Lesson One’ with a thick cloud of steaming reggae, while Levi Pon The Mic ups the dub ante on ‘Saint-Leu’. And Drean from Reunion Island’s own musical magpies Zong lends her emotive Creole vocal stylings to the ambient drum ‘n bass of the title track.
But instead of providing a distraction, these staggering contributions simply amplify the genius of the four men who are 340ml. ‘Sorry For The Delay’ has certainly been worth the wait.
- This article originally appeared on iafrica.com.