Back in 2019 we featured the duo Mr Freddy when they released their debut album Lay Of The Land on the Stay Put label. It was a brilliant debut displaying the musical cohesion between Ralph Smit (multi-instrumentalist) and Mwesigwa Kisaakye. Electronica, jazz, alternative and African traditional music creating a fantastic afro-futuristic ride leading to names like Gilles Peterson becoming a fan.
A few months is a long time in music but (unless we are mistaken) it has been about two years since that debut: that is an eternity. Admittedly at the time Mr Freddy already let us know they were working on a follow-up album. Circumstances however conspired to prolong, that sophomore album.
In the interim however they bring the sublime lo-fi project Otumpan Sessions. Born out of a certain degree of circumstance and improvisation, the project moves with ease through five tracks totalling some nineteen minutes.
From the opening track First Impressions Count to cuts like Por Favor Mi Amigo [Please My Friend] the ep brings an interesting emotional dichotomy of the lo-fi-carefree to dark slightly foreboding undertones.
Perhaps that emotional dichotomy a product of the lockdown period. While the project was recorded between 2019 and early 2020, Ralph subsequently revisited the project in lockdown while in Paris. Here he added elements of “ambience” and “contours of movement”.
Otumpan Sessions builds further kudos for this duo from Eswatini but also sets an appetite for that long awaited sophomore album.