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- New Recordings From Coast Province, Kenya by Mukunguni
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Here on Honest Jons is this magical collection of field recordings of the Mijikenda tribes in Kenya, recorded in and around Mukunguni village in 2011, which both press release and liner notes reliably inform me is primarily in the Segenya style, “which evolved in the early twentieth century, adding pace, new Tsikitsi rhythms and extra drums to the traditional Dumbwi forms of the Duruma tribe. Besides the Sengenya drums — bumbumbu, dahdahe, chapuro, vumi, ngoma — there are lungo and dena (metal rings), kayamba (raft rattle), njunga (bells), ukaya (metal tray), bamba (metal guiro) and bottle-tops.”
Educational part out of the way, what does it sound like? Well it’s actually quite a mixture, there’s some quite minimal instrumental pieces - opener ‘Ndema’ and later ‘Puredi’ are purely percussive pieces which remind me of Moondog and ‘Bung’o’ is an hypnotic passage played on a horn for a weird cyclic skronk feel like an earthier Colin Stetson. Elsewhere there are a capella vocal pieces, ballads and lively celebratory pieces with dense, exotic polyrhythms and call-and-response chanting. There’s some informative notes on the traditional meanings of many of the pieces performed, and the recordings themselves are beautifully clear and well captured. I don’t want to say too much for fear of exposing my general ignorance of Kenyan music but this is an excellent collection.
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