Choice Chimurenga

COMPOSERS: Thomas Mapfumo
LABELS: Sheer Sound
PERFORMER: Thomas Mapfumo (voice), etc
CATALOGUE NO: SLCD 059

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If it has Chimurenga on the cover then it’s bound to feature Thomas Mapfumo inside. The doyen of consciousness-raisers in Zimbabwe heads this round-up of African releases with highlights from the last six years.

To the rest of the world that means a majority of new tracks. His chimurenga style is a popularised blend of African sources: counterpoints of guitar and bass surround the traditional mbira, driven by choruses and drums.

Mapfumo’s voice is relaxed and almost mellow in the opening love song, over a delicious texture of constantly varied lines, but an edgier sound appears when the content becomes social and political.

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The words sometimes despair and sometimes urge reform, but the music-making embodies an unstoppable current of hope. Several more CDs have arrived from the same South African label, covering the south-east of the continent quite diversely – no space to detail but worth looking out for.