Voices of Southern Africa


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Voices of Southern Africa Review

by Adam Greenberg

The Insingizi heard here is the current form of an older group of Zimbabwean musicians from Bulawayo who acted as something of a cultural troupe, touring throughout Europe. After settling in Austria, the group quietly disbanded, but three of the members have re-formed the core of it as a trio of mbube singers. As such, the sound is relatively similar to the bulk of the Ladysmith Black Mambazo albums, but with key differences. The sound is somewhat sparser, as there are here only three singers rather than the full array of singers in Ladysmith. Also, there are touches of Western music theory from time to time here, quite likely hailing from some time spent in music theory study while in Austria. The album appears to be spearheaded to some degree by the combination of Vusa Ndlovu and Dumisani Moyo, who trade off lead vocal duties and arrangement and composition duties admirably. Nqo Nkomo does an admirable job on backing vocals but rarely steps into the forefront. As mbube goes, this isn't a bad set at all. It's not necessarily anything spectacular, but it's certainly worth hearing. Beyond the usual course laid out by Ladysmith, these singers add one nice touch to the work in Ndebele: the use of the click. In a couple of songs ("Uthando Iuka Jesu" and "Isqoqodo" most notably), they make the click into a full-fledged musical force on its own. The last highlight of the non-Ladysmith affairs is the final track, an instrumental tour de force on the part of Moyo, multi-tracking djembe, whistles, and more into a piece somewhere between Southern Africa and samba. For a quick look at mbube slightly outside the sphere of influence of South Africa proper, this is a fine disc.

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