The Brother Moves On

The Brother Moves On (TBMO) doesn’t like being put in a box — unless it’s a big box with windows and a door they can walk out of. Musical shapeshifters, TBMO is a Jozi-based, site-specific art and music collective who call themselves “a time and space exercise”. They bend the rules of performance art, fusing a fiercely eclectic mix of musical styles, influences and sounds with costumes and storytelling to create a distinctly South African act.

In creating “transitional music for a transitional generation”, it’s fitting that this “happening otherwise known as the band” is transient in itself. Inspired by a passing assassin, “The Brother”, in an episode of The Wire, they decided to embrace the reality that bands break up and formed TBMO as an entity independent of who plays, stays or moves on.

TBMO’s music/storytelling/art, performed in museums, churches and makeshift spaces, is experimental and expressive. With a sound that’s at once post-folk rock, tribal, indie, hypnotic and melodic, it symbolically echoes the cultural complexity the collective, as individuals, grew up with. TBMO’s music speaks about where the “born- free” generation finds themselves — as an unemployed generation that, without a sense of entitlement, has to fight for their dreams. In creating a new discourse, they want to create a new kind of music: “brown baby music”. It’s not black, it’s not white and it doesn’t play to racial stereotypes. Instead, it affirms the evolution and identity of a new generation of South Africans who are also global citizens.

Their debut EP, The Golden Wake, symbolises an awakening of potential and marks a new era for TBMO. With hopes for cross-border collaborations with other African artists and tours to mega-cities, it seems that, with such an authentic and symbolic South African sound, the only direction this genre-busting band is moving is up.

— Lu Larche