It's only the purest of art that will take you to a different world for a moment and let you feel an emotion beyond that ever-tightening mesh of previous experiences. This song hit my soul unchecked.
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On a sunny Friday morning in March 2013, mbira queen Chiwoniso entered the M.F.D recording studio in Harare, Zimbabwe with her friend and fellow musician Jacob Mafuleni.
The previous day, my partner in Nyami Nyami records Charles Houdart, then director of the Alliance Française, had invited the internationally known ‘voice’ of Shona music to pass by the studio to meet my friend Nico Sacco, sound engineer, and myself. After we met her, we asked her if she might be interested in recording something with us.
She said she wanted to record her version of the traditional Zvichapera song, popularised by Thomas Mapfumo. She wanted to do it in a stripped down, all acoustic version, which is what I dreamed of for this song.
The recording was pure magic: Chiwoniso and Jacob overdubbing lines of mbiras, vocals and hosho in quick takes. The session was one of the most emotionally intense sessions I have ever experienced. Though it was short, it left us all uplifted and filled with joy.
The news of her death, so young, a few weeks later took everyone by surprise putting all who knew her and her work in deep sadness.
This first release of Nyami Nyami records is a tribute to Chiwoniso’s artistry and humanity.
The artwork is a drawing by acclaimed Zimbabwean painter Misheck Masamvu.
released November 20, 2015
Chiwoniso – Zvichapera
Chiwoniso : mbira, vocals, hosho
Jacob Mafuleni : mbira, vocals
Recorded by Nico Sacco and Antoine Rajon at M.F.D studio, Harare, Zimbabwe
Mixed by Nico Sacco at La Caverne studio, Paris, France
Mastered by Frank Merrit at Carvery studio, London
Nyami Nyami Records is a french label promoting music mainly from Southern Africa. Nyami Nyami Record's mission is to touch
the soul and ears of the people with music made with passion, love, respect and talent. Our releases feature unique recordings by some of the most fascinating musicians from the Southern African region through new productions, reissues and rare projects and collaborations....more
Though it the period of my very fondly remembered first love, who dumped me after some wonderful years, I recall, with the unforgettable line: "You can't keep me in the way I've become accustomed to being kept!"; and though it was the period that led me out of the drudgery of the butcher's shop and countless dead-end jobs and into a more liberating and creative world, the Eighties are far from being my favourite period musically, and certainly not fashion
It would be the odd indie track from back then I might listen to today, or some avant-garde classical. Which was about all I did listen to in the latter half of that decade.So I was surprised to find that this record was originally released in that vulgar and musically frivolous period: the one of bright coloured suits with power-shoulders, billowing cravats, permed and pouffy hairdos, buccaneer wear, neon headbands and legwarmers, and everyone clutching a cocktail in one hand, a Filofax in the other, whilst pretending to step off Simon Le Bon's yacht!
My favoured periods for nostalgia purposes, and for retro-music, are the Sixties and Seventies; periods I lived through, both as a child, and, later, as an occasionally deliquent teenager (er...appologies to all concerned!).
This album wasn't exactly mainstream and was largely rejected at the time, so that gives me some comfort for having bought it, as does my feeling that it is more the boogie-funk Seventies sounding elements of the music that led me to it, and, of course, the Africa connection.
I like a lot of music from the two decades I mentioned because it retains an element of rawness and character about it that is often killed by producers today. Thankfully, Shadow and his musicians are doing the bulk of the work on Sweet Sweet Dreams, not the technology.That said, I've never been a huge fan of automated claps, or of most of the other keyboard sounds on disco, though here I find it passess in an inoffensive jolly way, and that's probably another reason I gravitated towards it.
Shadow's voice has an endearingly frail, fragile quality to it, similar to that of Murphy Williams on the recently re-released, She Is My Woman, which is a charming album itself, though it does have a somewhat dubious image on the cover of Williams staring out, with a rather furtive and posessive look, from between a Yucca plant and a woman who may just be the lucky one in question! (Let me know what you think!).
This is a fun album for a hot night with balloons, dancing around the BBQ, I'd say. And for the vinyl loving fetishist, there's also the bonus of the very cool poster of the man himself. nicholas hamnett