David Tapfuma - "Magamba" (Esa Zimtronix Direct mix) (5:19)
Review: This compilation style outing from Southern African music enthusiasts Nyami Nyami is billed as "an ode to the music of Zimbabwe past and future". Side A boasts cuts from two Bulawayo-based "Kwela" outfits: a terrific, heavily percussive future dub interpretation of Bulawayo Kwela's "Mysterious Africa" by The Comet Is Coming producer Danalogue, and the sparse, sun-kissed acoustic bliss of Elliot Phiri's "Nomalanga". Turn to the flip for two versions of Hararre-based David Tapfuma's beautiful "Magumba". There's the original version, where Tapfuma sings over a solo mbira melody, and a superbly glassy-eyed, synth-heavy 21st century club version by Auntie Flo collaborator (and hugely talented producer) Esa Williams. As good as the rest of the EP is, his version is worth the admission price on its own.
Review: There's been a fair amount of hype around this unlikely collaboration between Zimbabwean mbira maestro Jacob Mafuleni and French electrofunk producer Gary Gritness. In truth, the hype is deserved. Offering a thoroughly fresh tale on traditional shona music, the album effortlessly blends percussion and vocals from Mafuleni and wife Martha Thorn with the vibrant synthesizers and on-point drum machine programming of Gritness. It's a formula that arguably shouldn't work, but in reality results in a string of memorable moments. For proof, check the near D&B tempo brilliance of "Mukuru", the intricate melodies, slipped beats and raw analogue bass of closer "Nyama Lekougoctha" and the sublime shona-electro fusion of opener "Mayariria".