Tak Shindo

Mganga! The Primitive Sounds of Tak Shindo

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It's more than a bit ironic that Tak Shindo's most "exotic" album, the superb Mganga!, boasts no connection to his own Japanese heritage, instead focusing on the primal rhythms and tribal chants of Africa. Rooted largely in the arranger's experience on the Latin jazz circuit, its Afro-Cuban rhythms, sampled animal sounds, and chants capture an African musical culture based far more in fantasy than reality, much as rival exotica maestros like Martin Denny and Les Baxter conjured interpretations of the Far East driven by suppositions and daydreams. Shindo documents an Africa informed by libraries and dancehalls, not first-hand experience. That said, Mganga! is vibrant and intoxicating, with a rhythmic intensity quite uncommon for its era. For an artificial experience, it packs a genuine wallop.