Cape Town

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12 Sep 2009

Pan African Space Station - an all round freeform sound cocktail

Provoking new forms of creative expression and social mobilisation, the Pan African Space Station (PASS), a 30-day music intervention, takes place online through a freeform music radio station and across venues in Cape Town. This music exploration begins on 12 September 2009. Now in its second year, PASS continues its cross-cultural and cyber-spatial voyaging, bringing together diverse pan-African sounds from ancient grooves to future hip-hop.

The first stream of musical discovery begins with PASS’s 30 days of cutting-edge music that will be streamed live via the internet. The station will feature guest DJs, themed shows, live performances, readings, tributes, debates, sound art, speeches, interviews and much, much more. Limited audiences are invited to engage and interact with the music and discussions.

This first stream of music Internet consciousness will launch with Songs for Biko, a 24-hour praise party for Steve Biko on Saturday 12th September (Biko Day), from 6pm.

“PASS embraces the lineages that shape music making on and from this continent,” said the curators, “but we also try to challenge the stereotypes associated with musics from Africa. This project isn’t about connecting with one’s roots, it’s more about exploring African cosmopolitanism in this 21st century through music,” Ntone Edjabe one of the organisers said.

The second – live – musical expedition takes place between Thursday, 30th September and Saturday, 4th October. PASS II’s goal is to host genre-busting music outfits from global Africa. Acclaimed Kora maestro Toumani Diabaté mediates traditions inherited from Mali's ancient Mandé Empire through globetrotting jazz, blues and electro frequencies in his first ever South African performance. Expect an equally courageous and spiritual performance from Queen of Ndebele music, guitarist and bandleader Nothembi Mkhwebane.

The live component of the festival launches with the collaborative, experimental choral work based on the novella War Chorale by pioneering Chilean academic, visionary, writer and revolutionary Fernando Alegría, with composition and direction by jazz guitarist Bheki Khoza.

Nine-piece, Chicago-based jazz troubadours Hypnotic Brass Ensemble remap the street-music tradition that runs from jazz's earliest days through free-jazz, dub and hip-hop into a rowdy, rousing party-music script. Other big bands on the bill include Cameroonian funk-master Franck Biyong and his Massak Afroletric Orchestra who re-imagine Afrobeat via fearless forays into jazz, electronica, soul and hip-hop; and Zanzibar’s legendary taarab orchestra, the Culture Musical Club.

LA native Ras G and the Afrikan Space Program bring interstellar beats and dub grooves best described as Sun Ra meets Lee "Scratch" Perry. Ghanaian "afro-punk" Wanlov the Kubulor's "pidgin music" blends gritty Jamaican dub liquidity and socially engaged lyrics into an alternate music history. PASS II will also feature some of the continent’s most progressive DJs, including Dar es Salaam’s DJ Yusuf Mahmoud and Cape Town’s own Fong Kong Bantu Soundsystem.

The festival also features a series of new collaborations between South African musicians. Multi-talented jazz vocalist and trombone player Siya Makuzeni adds adventurous sonic textures to world-renowned drummer and percussionist Barry van Zyl's southern African sound-rhythm stew, Baboti. Elsewhere, politically engaged, slamming jazz upstarts uDaba are joined by poet and spoken-word author Kgafela oa Magogodi.

The live music component of PASS again takes place in a series of different venues across greater Cape Town. Audiences will travel from St Georges Cathedral, the Centre for the Book and the Slave Church in the city centre to Guga S'thebe in Langa and All Nations Club in Salt River. Songs for Bheki, a musical tribute to the late South African philosopher and musician Bheki Mseleku, closes the live music component on Saturday, 4th October.

Visit to view last year's programming and listen to archived "PASS Casts" including radio mixes, talks and performances by acts at last year's festival.

Updates and event schedules will also be posted on their website.

PASS is a creation of the Heliocentrics in partnership with the Africa Centre.

Tune into the station, attend the events. It promises to be a great experience.


"Jazz and freedom go hand in hand. That explains it. There isn't any more to add to it. If I do add to it, it gets complicated. That's something for you to think about. You think about it and dig it. You dig it..." Thelonious Monk
"Jazz and freedom go hand in hand. That explains it. There isn't any more to add to it. If I do add to it, it gets complicated. That's something for you to think about. You think about it and dig it. You dig it..." Thelonious Monk

Hamba Kahle Winston Mankunku Ngozi - Tributes

PASS photostream