Graham Reid | | <1 min read
In some circles this album by the duo of Malawi-born singer Esau Mwamwaya with Swedish beatmaker Johan Hugo may be labelled world music.
Admittedly it was recorded by Lake Malawi, features Baaba Maal on one piece and is sung in the local language Chichewa.
But -- on this their third album together -- with some bashing or ambient electronica, bassist Chris Baio from Vampire Weekend and the Vaccine's guitarist Freddie Cowan (among others) there's sometimes a gritty, inner-city feel to some of this.
Or more correctly dirt-floor mood, but in a village with a nightclub which has Portishead, old blues and Julee Cruise on the jukebox.
That said, this is a collection which can't make its mind up.
There's left-field juju (Guju Guju), an a cappella street song interpolation (Bilimankhwe) alongside sophisticated production (the tricky, hypnotic and enjoyable Afropop of Sweka), annoying and unnecessarily distorted pieces (The Dead and the Dreaming) and terrific music truncated (at less than two minutes Ufumu barely gets off the ground).
So across 13 pieces this tries to bring too many separate threads into the weave.
Maybe it should have just aimed at being Afro-crunch electronica (as on Let Go).
Or, dare we suggest, more traditional world music?