The Brother Moves On (TBMO) is about more than just music. Actually, it’s much more of an art collective than a musical group. Or perhaps it’s more of a living institution, where members stay for a shorter or longer period of time, while TBMO “sucks the life out of them – in a good way”, to quote guitarist Raytheon Moorvan.
TBMO started performing around 2008, but didn’t get its moniker until 2010 when vocalist Siyabonga Mthembu was watching an episode of The Wire and got inspired by the polite, bespectacled hit-man character Brother Mouzone. Within this play on words lies the message that TBMO is a loose structure in which members can stay for as long as they feel they can contribute, and that the project itself is larger than any single member. This results in the music being beyond any genre, and the expressions not being limited by the music but extended to spoken-word acts, costume design, graphic arts and performance.
Still, there is a conceptual line behind TBMO. All members are part of the post-Apartheid generation where the freedom and prosperity that people hoped for, has still not been fully achieved. They say the make “transitional music for a transitional generation”. Their eclectic, spontaneous and restless expression might be the best way to describe their generation’s search for a lasting political direction. Their energetic, humorous and versatile performance makes us think there is still hope.