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Stefan Schneider and Sven Kacirek's scintillating recordings of the Mijikenda tribes, made in different spots in and around Mukunguni village, coastal Kenya: mostly healing music for mental problems, but also love-songs, and spiritual contributions to weddings and burials.
Besides the Sengenya drums — bumbumbu, dahdahe, chapuro, vumi, ngoma — there are lungo and dena (metal rings), kayamba (raft rattle), njunga (bells), ukaya (metal tray), bamba (metal guiro) and bottle-tops.
Our opener is solo dena, played to sound like a bat, with the ear for frequency and timbre of a stringent avant-garde minimalist. There are the piercing, reeded nzumari oboe and bung'o horn, sounding like fierce free-jazz improvisation; and two gently stunning marimba solos, with complex, overlaid melodies and rhythms, played in polyphonic accents, almost like talking drums.
Most of the recordings here are songs, with strong tunes, robustly delivered, with different lead voices. Matatizo — 'Worries' — was recorded spontaneously at a bus-stop, waiting for a ride: a Swahili love-song, to the accompaniment of five or so people clapping and rubbing their palms together. 'The lord conferred this love on us, my sister. Is it human, or from the angels? Does it emanate from binoculars... or computers? I can't figure it out, but my heart aches so badly.'
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