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Siama Matuzungidi 'Rivers' Review

Artist: Siama Matuzungidi

Title: Rivers

Label: Unknown

Released: 10th June

I receive hundreds of promo submissions every day that covers all kinds of music (occasionally strange choices considering the title of the blog) the majority however, are world music and I simply don't have the time to dig out all the gems and tend to stick with the artists and labels I know. However, after hearing a Titeknots to a re-mix of Dele Sosimi's 'Sanctuary' courtesy of Andy Hickford's set for the Quality Music Lovers Show on it set me in a summery mood for some African vibes so I opened this e-mail and had a listen. I often play world music fusions in my own sets however, it doesn't always have to be about dub versions or re-mixes sometimes it's good just to hear the original sounds.

In a sense this release is a fusion of it's own but organic rather than electronic. Siama Matuzungidi left home at 17, his guitar strapped to his back. Music has since carried him from his home in the rural Congo across Africa becoming an accomplished and respected guitarist known as the Soukous Legend. Having relocated to Minnesota has pooled together a group of musicians from around the world who currently re-side in the city to work on this album for a fresh take on these Soukous pieces. This collaboration retains not only his guitar work but the vocal aspect and summery feel good factor of his native music but adds subtle dimensions such as soft and melodic jazzy piano, Carnatic Indian vocals, classical cello and more.

The album commences with 'Jungle Zombie' where a horn intro leads us to the guitar and vocals before a lovely piano breakdown leads us back to the horns. 'Maisha Mazuri' begins in a Carnatic style and adds some excellent guitar work with an almost sitar like feel. While 'Mombasa' on the other hand retains more of an upbeat and happy vibe that brings the vocals to the forefront. The kind of vibe you get (for want of a better example) with Peter Gabriel & Youssou N'dour's 'Shaking the Tree'.

Overall for me it's not club music as such just good clean, happy music that's great for relaxing in the garden in the summer with a cool drink. While those of you in the vicinity of Minneapolis in the U.S.A. can catch the experience live on May the 31st at the Cedar Cultural Centre.

Reviewed by Woodzee.