Describing an artist’s sound, or their vibe, is often easier said than done, especially when said artist’s music does not play by any of the traditional rules and confines that encapsulate the various genres of music.
Littered with small but memorable moments all throughout, Life Before the Apocalypse plays like a decoupage of various genres and musical ideas, tastefully, and subtly, translated by Tetu Shani through his compelling lyrics and his willingness to expand his musical dynamism.
A household name in the African folk music scene, Tetu Shani has been working tirelessly to leave his mark on the global music scene and his efforts are bearing fruit having been nominated by AFRIMA as one of the best African Rock acts of 2021 as well as being featured in the award winning Netflix series Blood and Water.
Released amidst the throes of a global pandemic, an album titled Life Before the Apocalypse seemed all too fitting. However this album had been years into the making, only to be released when the time was right. In fact one of the most stand out elements of this record is the fact that it was recorded from start to finish with a full band set-up this further adding to the authenticity of the music.
The album is described by Tetu as an ode to all his musical influences and this speaks for itself all throughout the record. The bridge section on Heart Break Amnesia is reminiscent of the indie and Brit-pop elements incorporated by bands like the Arctic Monkeys, whereas ‘Where Did We Go Wrong’ sees Tetu perfectly make use of African folk elements while fusing this almost seamlessly with contemporary musical ideas. Tracks like ‘Hi-Definition’ showcase Tetu’s willingness to meander into more mainstream genres like pop and pop-rock.
The fact that Life Before the Apocalypse cannot be placed into a single genre as a whole is perhaps what makes this particular LP stand out from the rest. Tetu’s masterful blurring of genres adds a second depth to the record, and it creates an almost spiritual-like experience that draws you in even further.
Life Before the Apocalypse plays like a brisk walk under the African sun on a cool summer day; the moderate pace of the album feels like the gentle African breeze brushing along your skin as you leisurely make your way about. The lyricism is reminiscent of a simpler time, and as much as the album taps into the past it perfectly highlights how Tetu is forging ahead with his craft and his musical approach.
That being said, Tetu Shani’s music doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but rather his approach to his craft exists on a spectrum of his influences and of his life experiences, all which have shaped this broadly influenced album.