Album Review: Peter Ngqibs – WDYS?

Peter Ngqibs takes us on a journey inwards, demanding introspection with his latest album “WDYS?”. Stepping back into the limelight six years post his initial foray with his debut “Let Me Go,” Ngqibs’ evolution as an artist is palpable, encapsulated in the 13 tracks that span a thoughtful 46:33 minutes.

The title, “WDYS?” – an abbreviation for “What Do You See?” – becomes the central tenet of the album, urging listeners to delve deep into the recesses of their soul, examining the essence of self beyond the superficial layers. This album’s soundscape, expertly curated by the maestro Gavin Bradley, is testament to his prowess and his ability to transcend genres, as previously demonstrated in his collaborations with industry stalwarts like Nelly Furtado and Kylie Minogue.

Beginning with the question “What do you see when you look at yourself?”, the tracks unravel a narrative deeply personal to Ngqibs, yet universally relatable. His investment in spiritual practices, namely yoga and meditation, forms the backbone of this narrative, grounding his tracks in a transcendent quality.

“Breathe,” the album’s cornerstone, is an evocative ode to the spiritual awakening that daily yoga and meditation practices bring. It becomes emblematic of life, transition, and the deeper meanings that often evade us. Songs like “Shadow” and “Tongue Tied” further the narrative, tackling themes of acceptance, introspection, and the constant battle of expressing oneself.

Ngqibs’ knack for story-telling through music is perhaps most potently showcased in tracks like “Sugar Love”, a heartwarming tribute to his niece, and “I Told You So”, a poignant tale of young love and the often painful realization of its expiration. Moreover, the inclusion of artists like Moonchild Sanelly on the sassy “Sweety” and Kyle Deutsch’s haunting vocals on “I Miss You” adds layers of texture and intrigue.

The cover art, a vivid creation by Robert Olazagasti, encapsulates the album’s ethos. Its intricate symbolism offers viewers a visual guide to Ngqibs’ auditory journal. Complementing this, the music video shot in Johannesburg by the accomplished videographer, Kyle White, further enriches the album’s narrative.

In tracks like “A Kiss”, Ngqibs captures the essence of myriad emotions that simple gestures can encapsulate. The track stands out, not just for its poignant lyrics but also for the universality of its theme, resonating with listeners across ages.

While “WDYS?” navigates through heavy, introspective terrain, it also has its moments of levity and celebration. “Nothing to Hide”, with its infectious soca-infused beats, ensures that the listener is left on a buoyant note, reminiscent of vibrant Caribbean carnivals.

While Peter Ngqibs’ absence from the music scene was palpable, “WDYS?” makes it clear that the wait was worthwhile. It’s more than just an album; it’s a testament to personal growth, the journey of self-realization, and the transformative power of music. “WDYS?” is an immersive experience, one that promises to leave an indelible mark on its listeners.

Come November 3rd, as the world gets its first collective experience of “WDYS?”, it is evident that Peter Ngqibs’ musical diary is set to be one of the standout albums of 2023. A must-listen for those looking for depth, nuance, and sheer musical brilliance.

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