22 October 2007

Monday's mp3: Madame Afrique

From our friends at South African label Fresh Music comes a great debut album from an energetic Afro-roots-pop-jazz band, Madame Afrique.

You could be excused if the opening track "Swamp Thing" doesn't put you in an African landscape -- it's a rich, upbeat jazz funk piece with a driving beat and minimal chanting vocals. But then comes the title track, and from the opening township-style guitar licks there's no mistaking the music's location.

Madame Afrique is, by the way, an all-woman band, including some former members of Amampondo and Women Unite. They keep a marvelous and engaging balance between the traditional instruments and styles and more modern influences.

Much as I love the big-name African performers such as Youssou N'Dour, Angelique Kidjo, and Baaba Maal, I'm delighted to find out about bands like Madame Afrique (and FreshlyGround) who are finally redefining Afro-pop for the new millennium.

This track isn't as electric or driving as much of the rest of the album, but I love the quality of the marimba and the simplicity of the groove. You can hear samples of other songs at the Madame Afrique website.

[mp3] Madame Afrique: Bafazi Vukani - Women Wake Up [Epilogue]
from the album She's Hot!

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