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Desire Marea releases his captivating and expansive new album On the Romance of Being through Mute.

The first single and video ‘Be Free’ came accompanied by a powerful and visually compelling video which explored queer love within the realms of South Africa’s hyper-masculine world of taxi bosses. It was followed by the delicate and brooding 8-minute epic featuring vocals from Zoë Modiga, ‘Rah’, and this week’s focus track ‘Mfula’ – a deeply intimate track in which Desire Marea sings of an emotionally destructive relationship with casual sex.

Listen to On the Romance of Being  in full:

Desire Marea’s voice is a culmination of many voices; a mouthpiece for a choir of spirits and entities. His second album On the Romance of Being is immersed in the communal, ceremonial and healing qualities of music.

Throughout the last two years, the Amandawe-based artist trained as Sangoma, the connection clear in his music. “In my work as a sangoma, ancient songs and drumming sequences are used to invoke spirits who live in me so I enter into a trance state. In my work as a musician, I heal people using music. It’s a different kind of medicine but one in which I often have to channel different spirits, different truths and the essence of light.”

Desire’s solo eponymous debut (2020) traversed electronic genres in an introspective exploration of modern love and loss. In contrast, the new album was recorded live with an ensemble of thirteen musicians, many songs being the first take: “My ancestors gave me an instruction to record this with a live band. The reasoning? It was a way to ensure that the music carried the soul. We were all united in the most intimate parts of our consciousness. The music made us one.”

Desire is known from the beloved Joburg collective FAKA, who toured the world extensively, including appearances at the 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art; Unsound Festival (PL); Roskilde (DK); Sonar (ES); and Dark Mofo (AU). They made their American debut scoring for the brand Telfar at NYFW, and achieved icon status by partnering with Versace to soundtrack their S/S 2019 menswear show. FAKA were also included in Vogue World 100 and Dazed 100 lists.

Desire Marea journeys through a multiplicity of identities and elicits a sincere conversation between the erotic and spiritual. Reflecting on his latest work, ultimately his truth as a vessel, Desire states, “every grain in a sandstorm is a moving mountain”.

Desire Marea’s On the Romance of Being is out now on Mute:

On the Romance of Being tracklisting
1. Ezulwini
2. Be Free
3. Makhukhu
4. Mfula
5. Arrival
6. Rah
7. Skhathi
8. Banzi

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