tumblr_mojugnYOZ31rrcn1to1_1280Having recently surfaced on the scene from out of nowhere, John Wizards – aka South African production duo John Withers and Emmanuel Nzaramba – have wangled themselves a debut release on legendary electronica label, Planet Mu.

Here, in the space of just two tracks, the pair manage to pogo through a myriad of influences and styles, a keen sense of modernity and a solid understanding of digital production technique underpinning the whole lot. The result, then, is a pick-and-mix of perfectly complementing tastes that ultimately lean towards the tropical side of the flavor-spectrum. Like a modern day Paul Simon, John Wizards craft instantly loveable, if not slightly eccentric, outsider pop, made from bits and pieces found in parts of the world left previously unexplored by most popular western musicians.

The track ‘I Is’ begins with a woozy synth pulse that remains a constant source of movement throughout the remainder of the song, whilst dreamy, sun glazed guitar licks, twinkling high end synth chimes and gloriously staccato digital percussions come and go as they please. It’s a track that, were it not for its beaming positivity, organic inflections and erratic nature, could almost be classed as ‘dubstep’. But try as we might, John Wizards don’t seem keen to let anyone apply any sort of label to them.

‘Lusaka By Night’ turns the pop-meter up a notch, with a winding robotized vocal that twists its way around a steady dub bassline. Simplistic synth patterns raise their heads in the mix for one time only, before disappearing, never to be heard again. It’s wonderfully experimental yet perfectly accessible. The magic of John Wizards’ music (terrible pun, please forgive me) seems to lie in the constant glimpses it provides into other styles that most people will easily recognize. From afro-pop guitar melodies to R&B-esque crooning, to dub reverb FX, it’s an overall sound that’s heavily indebted to strains of music we’ve all heard before, only constructed in a way that sounds entirely new.

8 out of 11

Release Date 17/06/2013 (Planet Mu)

I'm Allan, I've had obsessive listening disorder since I was about 13 and now I write about music as a way of helping me cope with that.