Friday, March 2, 2018

Mkwaju Ensemble - 1981 - Mkawju

Mkwaju Ensemble

01. Mkwaju 6:17
02. Shak Shak 3:19
03. Lemore 5:53
04. Tira-Rin 4:23
05. Pulse In The Mind 5:41
06. Flash-Back 12:37

Computer [Programming] – Hideki Matsutake
Keyboards, Producer – Joe Hisaishi
Marimba [Bass], Gong, Tom Tom – Yoji Sadanari
Marimba [Mitla] – Junko Arase
Percussion [Latin] – Pecker
Vibraphone, Gong, Marimba, Tom Tom – Midori Takada

Recording: Nippon Columbia Studio No.1 - February 6-7, March 12, 1981

A tamarind tree is called 'mkwaju' in Swahili. Having its origins in the sub-Saharan region of Eastern Africa, a mkwaju is large, adaptable and drought-resistant. It produces a strong, sturdy wood that sourced the very first mallets and marimbas. It's been described as the 'prize' of the Central African grasslands, having importance in the culinary, medicinal and musical realms of society.
Naturally, Mkwaju Ensemble takes their conceptual inspiration from this tree. The ensemble explores minimalism in a highly creative, energetic way - drawing from African percussive structure and the ethereal ways of African nature to manifest a sonic dissertation of heavenly rhythm.
Using bamboo percussion and synths amongst their re-creation of more traditional percussive outlets, Mkwaju's ambitious visions come to fruition in not one, but two albums released in 1981. Contrast within the polyrhythmic subtleties of the orchestrations are key to experiential authenticity of African culture, being metaphorical to love, synchronicity, struggle, and an eternal 'oneness' amongst the human race.
A Japanese trio comprised of Midori Takada, Joe Hisaishi, and Hideki Matsutake. Supposedly, Joe Hisaishi is usually the main attribution to Mkwaju, the LP cover on KI-Motion, their second release, credits other collaborating percussionists.
There's a duality to their albums. Their self-titled release is quite focused on the rhythmic complexities of their concept, and it was recorded in the spring of 1981. The aforementioned follow-up was recorded in one month during the fall of 1981, and was focused more on atmospheres and textures. There is an irrevocable importance on mentioning the specific recording months of these albums, for the resonance of 'spring' and 'fall' leave massive imprints on their respective albums.
I post both albums as one cumulative 'dual-review' simply because one cannot be heard without the other. This music is extremely sensitive, exemplifying the connection that a human soul has to nature. It gives the essence of my being relief and awe, in this way it works to epitomize the musical equivalent of love. It transforms your listening environment into a wondrous nirvana of gentle fascination, resulting in a testament to human accomplishment in music (to me, at least).
Give it a listen, especially if you're looking for a new take on either minimalism or beauty in general.



  2. great blog!

    You wouldnt happen to have Keith Christmas two albums on b&c records, "fable of the wings" and "pigmy"?