It’s not often we get to celebrate the birth of a new form of Mzansi dance music – a Kwaito, or a Gqom – but in 2016 we’re welcoming the phrase ‘AmaPiano’ to the wikis and online dictionaries. That’s because House Afrika – always at the forefront of new sounds – has teamed up with Born In Soweto to unleash the debut‘AmaPiano’ compilation, comprised of the biggest hits that have set the dance scene alight in recent times as well bringing to the fore the newer, progressive songs that are tracking the evolution of the sub-genre.
AmaPiano is a fresh sound out of South Africa developed by young and emerging producers who have dialed down the tempo and use minimal vocals, but rather rhythmically rich woodlock percussion, organ jazz vibes a la Eric Kupper, and atmospheres that simmer in groove-tastic positivity.
The AmaPiano sound is ubiquitous in ekasi right now – with its unique array of keyboards, xylophones, and steelpans, it slinks out of a variety of cars and is the staple at popular hangout spots. While it nods to dons like the previously mentionedKupper, Franck Roger and SJU – not to mention a bunch of forward-thinking local house cats (think “Joy” by Nastee Nev, “Sunday Showers” by Sai & Ribatone, “Latin Soul” by Dr Duda and Dr M-bee) – it really sounds like nothing on the planet right now.
Producers like MFR Souls, Kabza De Small, Luu Nineleven, Gaba Cannal, Bantu Elements and more don’t nail a particular way of composing AmaPiano here – the sonic elements listed so far are really just the start (there are also multiple menacingly insistent basslines to savour too). What they do nail is a vibe.
You could sum up the vibe as being: “Summer. Sexy. Head-bopping. Foot-tapping. A kinetic aural experience.”
One thing is for sure: AmaPiano is about to enjoy its festive season in the sun.