“Energy, meticulous arranging and sonic clarity” (Banning Eyre, AfroPop Worldwide), “Raw, natural power” (Bartek Chaciński, Polifonia), “incredibly difficult and precise orchestrated African drumming” (Bruce Miller, RootsWorld) - these were some of the conclusions about instantly sold out Kukaya's debut from 3 years ago.
The new album, again performed in the formula of live-in-the-field-studio-in-suburbs-of-Mzuzu, presents the band following their favourite historical music in a further and deeper direction. This time, the leader Emmanuel Mlonga Ngwira and his musicians left the simple presentation of the cultural heritage of their region. Instead, they reached for the particular themes of the north Malawian vimbuza style, which are the charms against evil. It is related to a difficult time in Ngwira's life, who in recent years, despite the relative success of the first album, lost his home and encountered many existential challenges.
Hence, the band performs its most trance-like and meditative character. The musicians presented the three longest themes (pieces 1, 4 and 7), as well as the song “Pasi Paliwaya” arranged for voices, combining hypnotizing repetitiveness with transcendent attention to sonic detail. Such performance resulted at the same time from the local way of performing music, but also from the leader's new fascinations with electronic music and jazz.
The other three pieces are the local songs of ingoma, mitungo and beni, also related to magic. It could be love potions ("Roda ...") or charms related to Malawian dances ("Gologolo" tells about a dancer who can perform like a lizard due to powerful amulets). In several songs, the band sings the names of the donors who supported the production of the album.
The recording, just like on the first album, is embedded in the sonic environment of suburban life - there are children's laughter, rooster's crowing or a distant mill. The virtuosity and energy of performance in this everyday context proves that the band is keenly waiting for the opportunity to present their music to audiences outside of Malawi.
released October 27, 2020
Arrangements, compositions, lyrics: Emmanuel Mlonga Ngwira & Kukaya, basing on the traditional music from the Northern Region of Malawi
Production: Piotr Dang Cichocki, Emmanuel Mlonga Ngwira, Ezekiel Nyirenda
Recorded 2019 in Mzuzu
Artwork: Adrian Szwarc based on Khumbo Desire Masanika’s design