Saturday, October 27, 2007

From Brussels to the Congo: Zap Mama

It's hard to pin down world music these days: Zap Mama's official website describes their music as "urban afropean music from Brussels." Afropean huh? "Somewhere between soul, gospel, pygmy song and Afro-Cuban rhythms." Soul and pygmy song? Sign me up.

Formed in the early 90's as an all-female a capella quintet, Zap Mama has evolved into more of a one-man (woman) band centered around the group's founder, Congo-born Belgian singer Marie Daulne. Signed by David Byrne's Luaka Bop in 1991, Zap Mama's debut Adventures in Afropea became the highest selling non-compilation album in the labels history.

On their latest release, Supermoon, Zap Mama leaves behind most of their a cappella roots for a predictably higher gloss of production and arrangement. Surprisingly, it works. Drastically different from their earlier releases, Supermoon, the groups's first album on Heads Up, is a free-spirited joy from start to finish. The album's opener, "1000 Ways" works to do one thing: get the party started. The rest of the album blends dozens of sounds and genres (and guests) while never losing it's edge. "Affection" and "Moonray" help juxtapose the album's afro-beats with a softer touch but are equally as enthralling. In the end, Supermoon is a step in a new direction for Zap Mama, and a good step indeed.

Zap Mama - 1000 Ways

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