Conceptually expansive tunes and drama queen lead characters in this week's The Lists
Call Your Girlfriend: A raw-format podcast that consists solely of a recorded phone conversation between two long-distance best friends. Presented by the mischievous and woke duo Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman. (ND)
Naga Ya Fsa (Tlokwe Sehume & Medu): There are some records that carry something much more than musical sounds.
This is one of them. I keep returning to Naga ya fsa, which means the country is burning. It’s particularly visceral and tastes like home too. On my better days, I imagine this is the music I would play if I were to host a lunch with Sobukwe, Tiro and Biko. Strong. (PM)
Remembering Weather Report (Miroslav Vitous): By the time of its end, this historic band, Weather Report, had travelled very far from its roots. In this imaginative EMC release, Miroslav, who was its founding bassist, offers an ode to founder Joe Zawinul’s loftier musical intentions. The music is as conceptually expansive as it is affective. Variations on Lonely Woman takes Ornette Coleman’s classic into surprising territories. I can’t get enough of it. (PM)
The reading list
Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva: I love books with drama queens in the lead and there are many in this biography. The first chapter includes the story of how Stalin’s first wife died in his arms after the birth of their first child. He was so distraught at her funeral that he threw himself into the grave. See what I mean? (ND)
Earthstepper / The Ocean is Very Shallow: Seitlhamo Motsapi was declared by Chimurenga as one of those poets who refuse to speak. This remains his only anthology. His voice is experimentally urgent with political fervour, without falling into the trap of cheap political rhetoric. Motsapi manages to mix the romance of street slickness, political militancy and spirituality. There’s a bewitching evergreen charge in these poems. I almost want to stand on street corners and read them out loud. (PM)
Joyce Carol Oates: In this novella-long essay, Oates ruminates on the sport of boxing. It is one of the most astute observations on the sweet science of bruising. The brutal poetics of boxing find an unlikely heroine in the delicate hands of America’s sweetheart of letters. Every sentence reads like a redeeming case for a sport often maligned for its capacity for primal violence. I fall in love anew every time I turn a page. (PM)
The Lists were compiled by Friday contributors Natalie Dixon, who wrote on decolonising design and Percy Mabandu on Henri Matisse in this week’s paper.