LP / CD / DL
7.5 / 10
Young afro-fusion Zimbabwean band release their second album. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.
A lot is being said about the new album from Zimbabwe’s six piece band Mokoomba, and it’s all entirely justified. On Luyando, their second collection they write and produce ten impressive tracks in an interesting D.I.Y. style. The rock style of their debut album Rising Tide is put to one side as a more acoustic approach is favoured with very positive results.
With a band name translating as ‘deep respect for the river’, appropriately referencing their hometown of Victoria Falls which sits on the Zambezi river, and amidst a melting pot of both cultural and musical diversity in a war torn and nation led by the ever present Robert Mugabe, the album title meaning ‘mothers love’ clearly shows where the bands heart lies.
Vocals harmonies and traditional rhythms are the mainstay of the album and it’s a fresh and lively sound that pervades throughout. Album opener, and current single Mokole has a great instrumental riff and the native voices are joined by English speaking hooks later in the track which not only makes it slightly unusual but also allows a sense of association.
The Tonga initiation inspired Kumukanda has a haunting feeling as its sparseness takes over, and there is a beauty to Njawane which tells the tale of a young hunter encountering a ferocious lion. It’s not all indigenously lyrical content as Nyaradzo deals with courtship and Kulindiswe of living away from the family unit.
Beneath the upbeat tracks on Luyando lie the true struggles of Tonga – communities moved away from the proposed Kariba dam, having their homelands taken over and being alienated from the townships they had once been so close to. Even today, much of Tonga survives in poverty. The album, whilst appearing joyous and uplifting is as much a reply to the indecision and disorder of Zimbabwe as it is to the dictatorship of Mugabe.
Luyando is a gem, and provides not only a thoroughly entertaining and animated album, but also a heavenly and traditional excursion through the lifeblood of a torn nation.
The Mokoomba website is here: mokoomba.co.zw.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog and you can follow him on Twitter here, and on Facebook here. You can also follow him on Twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news.