Sounds of the African Mbira

Sounds of the African Mbira

by Tinashe Chidanyika


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Sounds of the African Mbira

Between the sublime mbira playing of Stella Chiweshe and the mbira-like guitar lines of Thomas Mapfumo, there might not be a lot of room left for traditional Zimbabwean music on the world music circuits. Nonetheless, Tinashe Chidanyika makes a valiant entry, combining more traditional mbira lines with older forms of accompaniment -- cascading vocal harmonies that verge on yodeling. When he gets into a good loop, Chidanyika's full yodel moves into something of a Western, cowboy range. The music is mildly hypnotic, using repetition with non-repeating ornamentation to both lull listeners and keep them interested. The lyrics deal with themes of simple happiness and with modern poverty, generally not in the same song. A major highlight, though, is the piece that's entirely new, not based on a specific Shona melody -- "Ndotondera Gwenyambira" is a tribute to mbira players past, specifically calling out Dumisani Maraire and Ephat Mujuru with an entirely improvised melodic line and a simplistic backing rhythm. The mbira can alternately entrance listeners with its exoticism and dull them with its simplicity, but on this album Chidanyika does a fine job of sticking more to the exotic side of affairs.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/15/2009
Label: Arc Music
UPC: 0743037223324
catalogNumber: 2233
Rank: 133401

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