Album Review

Nyota [coll] – [Globestyle]

Thurston Hunger   8/3/2006   CD, International

Like the best of the Ethiopiques series, in this collection
of “Taarab” music from Tanzania/Kenya, we can hear somewhat
recognizable strains of music (especially to our ears raised
on electric guitars/basses), but the overall result here is
something that is fiercely its own. Boppy little guitar juju
lines, often chased by an accordion or warbly old synth
offer sweetness, while the (typically) female lead vocals
speak with a softer slightly sour strength. Crosscheck the
quick translation of “Nazi” : “Have you seen the coconut which
would want to beat a rock? It will hurt itself.” On many cuts
the rhythms have a great one-two-THREE dance and dip beat to
them. Check the killer break in “Enyi Wanadamu”, like a slow
motion bolero and then near gypsy mourn to finish. Whoa!
“Nini Dawa Ya Mahaba” plays up the arabic feel, but tells
the tale of incureable love (albeit with the singer Asmahan
kept too far away from hearts and ears). It’s another example
of great background vocals. These tracks were recorded from
1969-76, often as beautiful as the women on the cover.
-Thurston Hunger

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