Penya Safari

11/02/2020Magnus P.I's Cosmopolitan Collective Penya Releases Collaborative EP With Tanzanian Vocalist Msafiri Zawose

Early in 2018, after extended field trips to Cuba, Morocco, Turkey and India, the multi-instrumentalist/composer/producer and percussive investigator Magnus P.I (alias Magnus Mehta) and his Afro-Latin collective Penya released their debut "Super Liminal" via London-based On The Corner Records to global critical acclaim. Preceding the release, Magnus P.I had been invited to East Africa by Tanzanian vocalist Msafiri Zawose, where the two spent some time together recording near Msafiri's hometown of Bagamoyo.

"We are standing in a bare, dark, dusty concrete compound with a couple of tiny windows. [...] I have one microphone and a computer, and I’m surrounded by Msafiri’s various instruments hanging on the walls - an array of zeze (string instruments) illimbas (thumb pianos), a marimba, and an array of hand drums and shakers", Magnus recalls. "We start recording at about 10am every morning. We capture the ideas immediately, without much discussion. [...] I ask Msafiri if we can add more voices, so he asks his sister Tabu and brother Bahat to come in – the three voices sound unbelievable."

However, this is not where the story ends. Magnus returned to London, trying to figure out how to bring the recording together and "produce a record that represents the intuitive musical journey [the two] had started."  He played the recordings to the band and decided to turn the original Bagamoyo sessions into a sort of collaborative effort.

"It was a tortuous process", Magnus admits. "Integrating the band's ideas with the Bagamoyo material required the creation of many different versions of each track, and it took a long time before any of them started to sound like they were fully integrated." But Msafiri liked the new mixes and willingly contributed fresh material to help advance the project.

Now, two years later, the "Penya Safari" EP features four original tracks "with vocal contributions in Swahili, ancient Yoruba, Finnish, Spanish, and made up languages," along with three remixes by the likes of Tom Blip, Cervo and Guedra Guedra, combining centuries-old musical traditions with modern electronics and club culture motifs. You can buy/stream the full EP below.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom