Monoswezi – The Village (2013)

Monoswezi - The Village (2013)
Artist: Monoswezi
Album: The Village
Genre: World Fusion, Ethnic Jazz
Origin: Norway / Zimbabwe / Mozambique
Released: 2013
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps

01 Hondo (music trad, words Hope Masike)
02 Ndinewe (Hope Masike)
03 Kuenda Mbire (trad, arr Hope Masike/Monoswezi)
04 Mapfunde (trad/Hope Masike)
05 Kalahari (Hallvard Godal)
06 Heya! (Hope Masike)
07 Nhemamsasa (trad, arr Hope Masike/Monoswezi)
08 Xitimela (João Cabaço, arr Monoswezi)
09 Matue Tue (trad/Calu Tsemane, arr Calu Tsemane)
10 Metal Drum (Calu Tsemane, arr Monoswezi)


Mix the cool clear tones of Scandinavia with vocals and mbira (thumb piano) from Zimbabwe and percussion and singing from Mozambique, and you end up with a very surprising disc. The beauty is in the amount of space and the way the mbira and saxophone/clarinet play off each other, as well as in the fact that the mbira, traditionally only played by men, is in the hands of a woman here, and beautifully played. At times quite eerie, as on the gently percussive “Metal Drum,” it’s a disc that connects the dots not only between East African and Nordic music, but also connects with the minimalism of modern classical music. At the same time it can hit a softly soulful groove with “Kalahari,” two voices blending and playing off each other, building over the cyclical riffs that make up the music (in a similar fashion to Afro-beat, but without the wildness and electricity). What Monoswezi have created is a unique and intriguing fusion, and this album barely scratches the surface of possibilities. Where they take it will be fascinating.
Review by Chris Nickson