The Very Best: MTMTMK – album review

The Very Best ”“ MTMTMK (Moshi Moshi Records)
Released: 17th July

One of the best albums of 2010 was released by Afro-pop fusion kings The Very Best. Their sophomore album, MTMTMK, is due for release in a months time & we’ve been lucky enough to score a preview copy which Dave Jennings reviews for us below.

If you’re looking for the perfect summer sound, July 16th is a date to mark in your diary as that’s when The Very Best return with the follow up to their acclaimed debut, ‘Warm Heart of Africa’.

Having originally met in a second hand shop in London in 2007, The Very Best were formed after Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya haggled over a bicycle with Etienne Tron which led to a meeting with his Radioclit partner, London based Swedish producer Johan Hugo.

Esau was invited to work with Johan and his Radioclit partner in their studio which resulted in 2009’s ”ËœWarm Heart of Africa’, an album which featured guest spots from a number of artists including MIA and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. Etienne has departed now, leaving Esau and Johan to work on ”ËœMTMTMK’ alone, although again they have an impressive list of collaborators on the album.

MTMTMK was recorded over five weeks in Esau’s hometown of Lilongwe, Malawi. As Johan explains:

“We had to make a big step with the second album, we had to evolve, this time we wrote, produced and recorded together simultaneously ”” the way it should be done. It was a much more collaborative effort.”

These sounds go much deeper than on the band’s debut. Johan continues:

“We always wanted to do pop music with the The Very Best but it comes out twisted. These maintain our spirit, even the darker tracks, and Esau has matured immensely as a singer. We focused more on the totality of songs – faster, dancier, darker.”

This album also features an impressive list of guest appearances by the likes of Amadou and Mariam, Baamba Maal, K’naan, Bruno Mars, Taio Cruz, J-Wow (Buraka Som Sistema), Seye Adelekan, Winston Marshall (Mumford & Sons), MNEK, Moroka and Moment Laudi.

From the striking opening of ”ËœAdani’, MTMTMK is a compulsive fusion of African style and masterly production. The irresistible hook of ”ËœKondaine (feat Seye)’ is the first single from the album and the video can be seen here, but it does contain footage some may find disturbing:

Esau’s vocals are laid down over a rich tapestry of sounds and highlights include ”ËœWe OK (feat K’Naan) ”ËœMoto’ and ”ËœComeAlive’ featuring Mo Laudi and the unforgettable ”ËœNkango’.

”ËœWarm Heart of Africa’ was rated by many as among the finest of 2009 and ”ËœMTMTMK’ is assured of a similar reception upon its release later this summer.

All words Dave Jennings. More articles by Dave can be read here.

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