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Zita Swoon Group - Wait For Me

  by Lisa Torem

published: 21 / 4 / 2012

Zita Swoon Group - Wait For Me
Label: Crammed Discs
Format: CD


Enthralling and innovative latest album from Belgium group Zita Swoon Group, upon which founder and guitarist Stef Kamil Carlens has combined together with Burkina Faso musicians Awa Deme and Mamadou Diabate Kibie

Stef Kamil Carlens, who is from Belgium and the founder of Zita Swoon Group, has combined his guitarist skills and whiskey vocals with Burkina Faso musicians Awa Deme and Mamadou Diabate Kibie on the album, 'Wait For Me'. The themes centre around the challenges that face West Africa economically and politically. Those themes are passionately explored, without sounding forced. This exciting match ignited when Carlens met the singer and balafon (xylophone) player and discovered they were “griots” – storytellers. Their stories fascinated Carlens who then asked them to collaborate, and as he got more familiar with their cultural viewpoints offered to integrate his original arranging ideas. Carlen’s blues combined with the West African call and response soon become an expressive medium. Yet, within that call and response is a deeper call and response; as the album progresses, Awa’s themes, sung in her native Manding, call out to Carlen, whose stories sometimes reflect a different cultural perspective. Thus the thirteen songs are sung by way of a fierce dialogue, but the music is just as intoxicating. The various instruments squawk in harmony and dissonance. The players include Cuban Amel Serra Garcia on percussion; Kapinga Gysel on pump organ and glockenspiel; Simon Pleysier on banjo; Christophe Albertijn on bass and Karen Willems on drums. Stef Kamil Carlens writes, sings, arranges and plays resophonic and electric guitar. The Zita Swoon Group began around 1995 and was originally called Moondog Jr. After several albums and extensive touring, Carlens was itchy to explore more and committed himself to not being pigeonholed into a strict rock sentiment. His latest venture assures us that he has expanded his vision. ‘A Sera A Waara’ is one great example of the fabulous vocal interaction that glides between Carlens and Awa Deme, and the hollow, but penetrating instrumental breaks light us up even more. ‘Tasuma/Ji (Fire/Water)' features the earthy balafon and heartfelt conviction: “What we need is fairness in trade” is one statement. Awa chants emphatically and then breaks into song. ‘Taare' (Surprise)' shows Awa’s mellow confidence, which is supported by sonic pointillism and punctuated shouts of rhythm. The backing arrangement is as buoyant as her steadfast narrative. Mamadou Diabete Kibie’s balafon is exceptionally expert. ‘Ani Baara’ explores the inequities of the economic workplace. “The beauty of a man is the work he can do.” “My daddy died young from working so hard.” And, another amazing interplay between the instruments occurs. ‘Nisondiya (Joy)' establishes the most hypnotic groove, which is sweetened with blues piano. ‘Taamala Fisa’ (It’s Good to Travel)' is accentuated with exciting layers of voices, sometimes octaves apart, yet always tightly woven. ‘Sia Slide’ makes beautiful use of the slide in this startlingly original instrumental. ‘Ko Benna Waati (Everything Has Its Time)' marries fierce fusion to acerbic bass with a Santanaesque vitality. ‘A Yi Majigin (Respect Yourself)' is a joyful chant with a brilliant hook and outstanding xylophone. ‘Negen (Flatter)' allows Stef to rejoin as vocalist. His rendering carries an almost Bowie-like timbre. In short 'Wait For Me' is an exciting album that merges American roots music with the best of West Africa, while, along the way, the griot unabashedly bares his soul.

Track Listing:-
1 Sababu
2 A Sera, A Waara
3 Tasuma/Ji
4 Taare
5 A Ni Baara
6 Nisondiya
7 Taamala Fisa
8 Sia Slide
9 Ala Lon Man Di
10 Ko Benna Waati
11 A Y'i Majigin
12 Negen

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