Friday, October 8, 2010

Thomas Mapfumo unveils "Exile," his first new music in 5 years!

Thomas Mapfumo, the legendary father of Zimbabwe's chimurenga music, has pretty consistently released at least one new album of songs a year since sometime in the late 1970s.  Lately, though, the champion of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle has been facing a whole new kind of struggle, and that is the central subject on his new CD, Exile.  Mapfumo has not been able to return to his beloved country since 2004.  His current base is Eugene, Oregon.  Surrounded by his immediate family and a handful of key musicians, he has continued to compose, record and perform.  But for a variety of reasons, it has proven difficult to bring the music to market.  His fans around the world, especially in Zimbabwe, have been missing him badly during this time, but at last the long wait for new Mapfumo songs is over.

Click here to buy a download of Exile.

The CD Exile  has been years in the making.  It is the fruit of various sessions in recent years.  I actually participated in two of those sessions, and play some incidental guitar on a few tracks.  So take this as a non-objective assessment, but this is an excellent release.  These songs have been worked over and honed to a kind of perfection.  Moreover, Mapfumo has selected the strongest, deepest numbers out of the many he has tracked, and the end result is quite magnificent.  There are two brilliant numbers from the traditional mbira repertoire, the genre of music Mapfumo is best known for.  There are also songs that throw back to an earlier era of his career, full of the giddy, folksy rhythms of the Zimbabwean countryside.  And there are a number of songs that can only be characterized as Mapfumo creations.  Of particular note is the achingly beautiful "Ndangariro" (not to be confused with the 1983 album of the same name).  This new composition taps the emotional core of exile as it evokes the sadness of missing home, and the sadness his fans must feel missing him.  A real heartbreaker.

Exile will be available soon as a physical CD in the US, and Afropop will have much more to say about it.  But if you are like me and simply cannot wait, click here to order a download of Exile.  Chimurenga bliss awaits you!

Banning Eyre

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