12/08/2017Tanzania's Msafiri Zawose Premieres Two Tracks Off Forthcoming Album On Soundway

Browsing through the world wide web, we chanced upon a downright hypnotic track by Tanzania's vocalist Msafiri Zawose, "one of the biggest slept-on musical forces from the region". A descendant of the Wagogo people, a Bantu-speaking, traditionally nomadic tribe inhabiting central Tanzania, "known for their musicality and made famous by Hukwe Zawose - Msafiri’s father, who toured the world as a part of Peter Gabriel’s Real World roster in the 80s and 90s", Zawose is now carrying the proverbial and musical torch.

Back in August 2016, Santuri, "a vibrant and creative East African underground network that allows artists and musicians the freedom to experiment and grow" , took a trip to the town of Bagamoyo, located on the Tanzanian coast, along with Sound Thread's Sam Jones, a music producer, who most recently worked with Orlando Julius and delivered some much lauded remixes for Mugwisa International (see video below) and Sarabi.

Zawose and Jones developed a mutually respectful yet "highly charged working relationship" and began laying the groundwork for a new album "that will redefine the boundaries of gogo music" and is set to be released on Soundway Records on September 1st. And if we are to judge by the first two tracks already premiered these past weeks, this collaboration promises to be nothing short of a revelation. The result is a body of work that "remains profoundly gogo, but is infused with an organic electronic aesthetic, brought about by Jones’ exceptional production and feeling for textures. The tracks give off a borderless feeling, soaking up influences from across the globe - an afro-futurist journey that takes in dub, balearic, ambient and electronic vibrations alongside Zawose’s hypnotic playing and emotive, plaintive vocals".

"Nzala Urugu" opens with a thrusting rhythm and ethereal vocal chants, before being carried away by a gorgeous flute line and descending deeper into electronic realms. The driving "Pole Pole" on the other hand, which you can listen to in the SoundCloud player above, embarks on a more rudimental sax solo and is then taken over by slighlty distorted sound effects and Zawose's emphatic verses, before returning to a more harmonic structure and suddenly finding an beautifully captivating 'chordial' groove. "Wow, what is this?", you may find yourself asking. And you may find yourself answering: "I have no idea, but I really dig this".

"Uhamiaji" will be released as 2LP, CD and digitally on September 1, 2017.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom