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Zap Mama - Adventures in Afropea

  by Nicky Crewe

published: 24 / 12 / 2019

Zap Mama - Adventures in Afropea
Label: Crammed Discs
Format: CD


Superb reissue of Brussels-based five-piece female group Zap Mama's seminal world music album

My introduction to what came to be known as ‘world music’ came through John Peel radio shows back in the late 60's and early 70's. He’d throw in a piece of music he had sourced from the BBC archives, possibly something we now realise David Attenborough might have recorded in the course of filming one of his anthropological TV series. The music was both intriguing and exotic. Musicians were beginning to appreciate the links between the American blues and the African slave trade. The WOMAD festivals highlighted the variety and appeal of music from cultures outside Western pop and rock, while at the same time American and British musicians were gaining fans around the world. I’m surprised and disappointed that I missed out on Zap Mama’s Grammy nominated 'Adventures in Afropea' when it came out in 1991 and very grateful that it has come my way now. Five young women from Brussels were inspired by their mixed African and European heritage to create an album of acapella music influenced by European, African and Arabic musical traditions. Founder and leader Marie Daulne and David Byrne with his Luaka Bop label coined the term Afropea, a term which still has resonance today. The music on this album is hypnotic and beautiful, mysterious and yet familiar. Apparently the live shows were full of humour and there’s a real sense of the enjoyment of using their voices, whatever language the lyrics are in. Finding a voice is about identity too. Their music represents something more than beautiful sounds and interesting harmonies. The concept of Afropea continues to be relevant today, in post colonial Europe. In fact David Byrne talks about a "reverse colonisation" taking place when he first heard them in the early nineties. I’m going to let Johny Pitts, author of 'Afropean:Notes From Black Europe' (2019), have the last word. "The Zap Mama project, however, was always much deeper than the blind coming together of cultures and rather a tuning in to the facts of the matter; at times unsettling and discordant, at other times euphoric and rapturous. Sometimes the melodies are peaceful and consoling, often the polyphonic harmonies are chaotic and complex. The music is always transcendent…. It is work that, in such a divided time, is more urgent and essential than ever."

Track Listing:-
1 Mupepe
2 Ndje Mukanie
3 Abadou
4 Marie Josee
5 Etupe
6 Nabombeli Yo
7 Take Me Coco
8 Son Cubano
9 Guzophela
10 Plekete
11 Bottom
12 I Ne Suhe
13 Mizike
14 Babanzele
15 Din Din
16 Brrrlak !

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