A few months ago I remember having a discussion with a few friends about on buying mbira albums. I wanted to know what it is that would make someone who has a vast collection of mbira music buy another mbira album. After-all, many traditional mbira albums always contain the same traditional songs.
Pasichigare as an album puts forward it’s argument to be bought on tuning, style and the honesty of the performance. That is besides the delight on knowing that it was recorded in a church and that it comes as a double CD with a nice little booklet inside!
Recorded using a medium low mavembe tuning that Chartwell Dutiro used to play when he was younger, the sound is deep and beautiful. They call the tuning Dindinyongwe village tuning after the name of the mountain in the village Dutiro grew up in. It was recorded using mbiras made by Sebastian Pott who is also one of the musicians on the album. As usual, Sebastian’s mbiras provide a very clear and resonant sound.
Chris Morphitis, the sound engineer, did a splendid job to capture the sound of the instruments as beautifully as possible. Following years of working with Chartwell via Spirit Talk Mbira, you can tell that Chris is fast becoming a true master of capturing the sound of mbira in a gourd as beautifully as possible. I have played the Dindinyongwe mbiras by Sebastian before, possibly in one of the gourds actually used on the recordings and when I listened to the recording one of my immediate responses was that it sounds ‘live’! (“If it ain’t bad, why fix it?”, others would say!).
The mbira is played in a style that is clear and will also in no doubt be very useful to the students of mbira who learn from listening to recordings. The songs are played at a steady tempo that makes it easy listening and easy to play to for those who like playing along to recordings.
Chartwell’s voice soars beautifully over the mbira. Definitely one of the best mbira vocalists around, you will find the album a delight from a vocal point of view. The album challenges some orthodoxy as lyrics that are usually used for other songs or music find new homes on the album.
The booklet that accompanies the double CD will be very useful to those unfortunate enough not to understand Shona as it contains translations of all the songs into English and German. Some of the lyrics will be familiar with some lyrics paying homage to the the ever witty Sekuru Gora. Not sure if that was intentional or not but it was rather nice to sense that celebration of Gora, a genius who I feel is sometimes overlooked. This will be great to bring an understanding of what is being sung but sometimes the wit is lost in translation as it will be important to understand the context of the lyrics to fully appreciate the wit.
The album goes on sale tomorrow and we’ll continue discussing it when you had a listen and have your own comments. Looking forward to hearing your views when you’ve listened to it.