It is hard to imagine a more powerful vocal form of music than the massed power of a Zulu group in full swing. But how would it fare when mixed with an eclectic range of beats and music?
Aki Nawaz, of Fun-Da-Mental, fame would not be daunted by the beauty of the unaccompanied vocal tracks he started off with. These dozen singers from Durban have developed the possibilities of vocal interplay to a very high level, being both inventive harmonically and at times forceful, at times very delicate.
Production work was split between the exotic location of Halifax in Northern England and Lahore in Pakistan, where musicians who had never heard anything like this music adapted with ease to the challenge. This three way split opens up the musical possibilities factorially from the usual western dance beats meets traditional African music formula.
The results show a wonderful range from the soulful and multi-layered ‘Intoxicated’ to the full on Zulu ‘Storm’, which opens the album. In this context, tabla seems as natural an accompaniment to the music as any other form of percussion.
Credit must go to Aki too for knowing when to let the vocals speak for themselves as on the wonderfully overlapping cascade of voices on ‘Ebumnadini’. And on the whole, it has to be said that the Mighty Zulu Nation are the stars set off by the inventive music supplied by Aki and collaborators.
So if you are a bit of a fusion fan, you will love this record for its freshness and if you are a bit of a purist at heart, have no fear, this is no Peter Gabriel type collaboration.
Tracks: Storm / Mdavu The Man / Abantu / Intoxicated / No War / Justice Day / Uthando Lwakho / Seliyaduma / Ebumnadini / Abantu As One / Shobana / Impi / Elamanqanu / Shobana Flyin Lo