Release Date: Jan 29, 2013
Record label: Riverboat
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.
On paper this is a north European jazz band—the founder/saxophonist is Norwegian, the band has received financial support from the Norsk kulturråd—but the lead singer Hope Masike comes from Mozambique and southern Africa is the music’s muse, kept very cool by the jazz-brass, which lingers around her while she makes reckless instinctive-sounding moves from one note into another. This lingering affects her too, she’s slower than she could be, her reckless style teases itself against the instruments, she plays a Shona pattern on her mbira, and her voice gives the music a prickly kind of rebellious life. This sound of a naturally fast impulse, the jump between hum and high “Aow!” the warmth of her smiling delivery, being drawn out by this communal icy-cool focus, is wonderful and delicate.
Though at opposite ends of the earth, Norway and Mozambique fuse fascinatingly in this outfit assembled by Norwegian reeds player Hallvard Godal after time spent down south. Their approach is minimalist, with the looping lines of mbira (thumb piano) mixed with stalking jazz bass, assorted percussion and bells. The songs are traditional, given life by the supple, at times spectacular vocals of Zimbabwe's Hope Masike (who also plays mbira), while Godal's tenor sax and clarinet supply twisting melody lines.