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The Brother Moves On (TBMO) is a South African performance art ensemble based in Johannesburg, Gauteng. The group was founded somewhere between the years 2008 and 2010 by broad-based artist Nkululeko Mthembu and his brother Siyabonga Mthembu. Beginning as a loose art collective including graphic and performance artists, TBMO is most widely recognised as a band fronted by Siyabonga Mthembu as lead vocalist, with Zelizwe Mthembu on lead guitar, Ayanda Zalekile on bass and Simphiwe Tshabalala on drums. This core group is regularly joined by a shiNing cohort of collaborators and members from various disciplines.
The Brother Moves On is known for their mulD-disciplinary live shows described as "tradiDon-trouncing trans-Atlantic Afro-centric futuristically ancient fusion" in which core members and invited performers take on various roles combining story telling, theatre, drawing, video installation and other experimental media. The current ensemble includes Siyabonga Mthembu, Zelizwe Mthembu, Ayanda Zalekile), Simphiwe Tshabalala, Mthunzi Mvubu (alto saxophone), Mohammed Dawjee (tenor saxophone).[ The band also regularly features a variety of musicians from Johannesburg live music scene such as Itai Hakim from poetry duo Children of the Wind, Malcolm Jiyane from the Malcolm Jiyane tree-oh and Solethu Madasa from the Solethu Madasa quintet.
The name The Brother Moves On derives from TBMO founders and brothers Siyabonga and Nkululeko Mthembu mishearing of Michael Po+s’s enforcer Brother Mouzone in the American television drama series The Wire.
Nkululeko, Siyabonga and Zelizwe Mthembu grew up together in Kempton Park Tembisa in the East Rand
of Johannesburg, South Africa. Thus they started composing together from a young age and together began the formaDon of what would be known as the Brother Moves On. The Mthembu brothers then began rehearsing with musicians from the Music Academy of Gauteng as Zelizwe Mthembu was enrolled in the school aNer having left the Moses Molelekwa School of Music in Tembisa. The Music Academy is run by trumpeter and music educator Dr Johnny Mekoa. At this school the band would start relating to the idea of musicianship fusing with the visual art and performance. Visual artist and musician Malcolm Jiyane was pivotal in this relation as a senior and lecturer at the college. This period was the beginning of long-standing relations with Oscar Kgware (saxophone), Ayanda Zalekile (trombone and later bass guitar), and Malcolm Jiyane's (trombone and piano). The lack of transportaDon and funds to continue this relation would necessitate a shiN for the idea.
In early 2009, Nkululeko met Raytheon Moorvan and organised for a "band meeting" with his brother and cousin at his mothers house, this would be the first formal rehearsal of The Brother Moves On. Later that week the band was booked for a performance at Mam' Busi Mhlongo's memorial and the NaDonal Arts FesDval in Grahamstown Eastern Cape. This would herald the arrival of Simphiwe Tshabalala as the drummer of the band, and since then Siyabonga Mthembu, Zelizwe Mthembu, Simphiwe Tshabalala and Ayanda Zalekile have been the longest standing members of the oubit.
South African collective The Brother Moves On, led by the lead singer of Shabaka and the Ancestors Siyabonga Mthembu, announce today their upcoming new studio album which will be released on Shabaka Hutchings’
label Native Rebel Recordings. Entitled $/He Who Feeds You...Owns You, the record is set to be released on October 28th 2022 and first single Bayakhala is out now.
Set for release off the back of the group’s 2021 album Tolika Mtoliki, which was hailed by Songlines magazine as “one of 2021’s essential records” and "a masterclass in making protest music”, $/He Who Feeds You...Owns You represents what Mthembu calls, “a time capsule of a moment before the pandemic” when the band were on tour in Europe. “All the songs became harder, stronger, thicker. They had to find their source of meaning because we were chanting them into spaces of people who got the energy but may not have got the words.” The album title comes from a speech by pan-African revolutionary Thomas Sankara to the Organisation of African Unity. “It takes his words into this time. It has a lot to do with food sovereignty and land – whoever feeds you, whoever owns your food system runs you,” explains Mthembu.
Unlike the first two releases on Native Rebel, that saw Hutchings compose a foundation for Chelsea Carmichael
and CoN&KwAkE to improvise and create, The Brother Moves On’s fourth album is based on a collection of pre-existing compositions. Recorded at Asylum Studios in Pretoria as well as live in front of an audience at Dyertribe Studios in Centurion, the album was produced by Hutchings (who also appears on flute and clarinet) with all tracks arranged by
TBMO and Spaza multi-instrumentalist Malcolm Jiyane. Album highlights include ‘Itumeleng’, made famous by 1970s Soweto band Batsumi, the meditaDve ‘Mazel’, and ‘Hamba’, a traditional piece often performed at funerals which also appeared on the Shabaka and the Ancestors album We Are Sent Here By History under the name ‘Go My Heart, Go To Heaven’.
The Brother Moves On (TBMO), a name derived from The Brother Mouzonea - a fictional character in American TV drama series The Wire - are the third signing to Hutchings' label following releases from rising saxophonist Chelsea Carmichael with The River Doesn’t Like Strangers and the debut album from jazz/hip-hop duo CoN&KwAkE titled Eyes In The Tower.
"Our inspiration is continuing the South African live music protest tradition beyond the yoke of oppression to a space where the joy of the music becomes synonymous with its people, space and consciousness. Our mantra is happy brown babies from the deepest South as a means of breaking any racial baggage left by the apartheid state machine through the love of people, music and culture."