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Album Review

Mapfumo, Thomas & The Acid Band – “Hokoyo!” – [Water]

ArtCrimes   12/7/2009   CD, International

Thomas Mapfumo has long been associated with a type of music called “Chimurenga,” the Shona word for “struggle” or “uprising,” which gained prominence as colonial Rhodesia’s white minority rule began to crumble, leading to an independent Zimbabwe. The Chimurenga style bases its guitar parts on the sound of the mbira (thumb piano), and uses the Shona language. Although the name “Acid Band” might suggest some psychedelic aspects, this is in fact nothing of the sort… the music is upbeat in tempo (the drummer rides the high hat pretty relentlessly throughout), sometimes influenced by Western R&B and soul styles of the late 70s (particularly track 1) but mostly more obviously African with interlocking vocals and percussive guitar similar to the Jit and Zouk styles. The acid side of the story perhaps is in the corrosive spirit of the lyrics, which recast the struggle for independence in mythical terms, drawing from Shona legends. This music spoke directly to the Shona people while not seeming so obviously subversive to the ruling class. Mapfumo went on to become more radical with his later work, a sort of Zimbabwean Bob Marley. ((( crimes )))

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