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Garikayi Tirikoti
MAIDEI
(Limitless Sky)
Stars graphics

The spiritually charged music of Zimbabwe’s Shona people has inspired a worldwide cult following. Recordings of the mbira, a 22-iron-pronged hand piano, circulate among the faithful but rarely make it into record stores. This one, coming from a new label specializing in Tanzanian music, stands out from the pack. Tirikoti is a phenomenon, in part because he uses a range of mbiras in different tunings to expand the instrument’s sonic range and in part because he plays with amazing speed and precision. Not that this is chops music — the magic comes from a hypnotic alchemy of interaction among musicians. On these seven tracks, Tirikoti and his nephew create a virtual village using overdubbing to build a complex mesh of mbira lines and rich choral passages of call-and-response with independent voices cutting across the harmonies. On "Usaore Moyo (Don’t Lose Heart)," the effect is joyous and bubbly; "Chinembiri Chii (What Is Popular?)" has a pulsing downbeat and mournful vocals. The layering results in occasional rhythmic looseness, but for the most part, the sound is natural, and crisply recorded to do justice to details. Another plus is the lyrics (well translated in the notes), which provide genuine insight into Shona culture.

BY BANNING EYRE


Issue Date: December 5 - 11, 2003
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