Album Review: ‘Zik Zak,’ A Rediscovery Of Africa’s Music By Ancient Astronauts

“In today´s world, everyone is capable of making music. The few who are able to carve their own sound and stand out in the loud are worthy of mention.

– Ancient Astronauts

There are several facets to African music beyond what we see on mainstream media. For the German duo, Ancient Astronauts, the goal is to make these sounds global. Zik Zak is an Afro-European album comprising 21 African music talents from 9 different African countries. It was curated to share fresh and authentic sounds in a musical odyssey that transcends genres.

Cover art by Hagop

Released on 22nd January 2021, Zik Zak is the result of an over 3-year project and a most rewarding one in the 20-year long career of Ancient Astronauts. It features raw, largely unsung talents from Afro hip-hop, reggae, dancehall, soul, and more. With an aim to leverage on their global acclaim, the duo seeks to share Africa’s underground musical treasures with the rest of the world. Thus, the album title is coined from the English word, zigzag, representing an Artist’s struggle through tragedy and success, in an era ridden by capitalism and racism.

The album will often dip in and out of varying genres with a new sound bursting at every turn. Yet, the unifying theme of this musical masterpiece is consciousness, humanity, and African culture. Here, Uganda is the focal point of these musical discoveries, featuring lesser-known versions of mainstream genres. From afrobeats to dancehall and root reggae, Zik Zak reverberates in a fine mix of English and Luganda.

In  ‘Ghetto Youth Never Give up,’ and ‘Pump up the sound,’ roots reggae underlies an uplifting message to the African youth in the ghetto.  ‘Photoshop Reality’ is Afro Hip-hop at its finest, a bop-along tune featuring Nigerian band BANTU.  You may become instantly endeared to the softness of Joyce Oloung’s vocals in ‘Pagliacci Reprise.’

We especially love the spoken word interlude in ‘Social distancing’ with Ife Piankhi, an insight into systemic racism.

Watch visuals for ‘Ghetto Youth Never Give Up’ below:

Overall, Zik Zak is an expository journey into Africa’s most undiscovered yet super-talented Artists. It delves into sounds rich with consciousness towards real stories by real people on this side of the continent. It is a gift from Africa, brought to the global music space by Ancient Astronauts.

Who are Ancient Astronauts?
ancient astronauts
Photo: Music In Africa

Ancient Astronauts are a DJ and music production duo made up of Kabanjak and Dogu, from Dologne, Germany. They began their early days exploring new sounds in the European underground scene. In 2001, they launched Switchstance Recordings, and later, their breakout EP, We Are To Answer. They have transitioned from discovering and collaborating with fresh talents across Europe to the African continent. They made their first entry into the African scene with Kampala Fire, a 5-track EP that pays homage to a Rastafarian culture from Western Uganda known as Nyabinghi. In Zik Zak, the rediscovery of Africa’s raw music talents unfolds in a powerful and profound masterpiece.


To stream or download Zik Zak, click here.

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