Wema: Double Vinyl LP
Label: !K7 Music
Release Date: 29th April
Big AfroLatin futuro traditional Tanzanian vibes on this, Wema is the project of Photay, multiinstrumentalist Msafiri Zawose and members of Penya. You can feel the earth move under your feet listening to this, it's got that global earthly groove but also sounds like the ground is shaking to another galaxy with shots of synth and dubby rhythms. A colossal dance record.
For those who dig: Photay, Ibibio Sound Machine, Nubiyan Twist, Kokoroko...
For WEMA, collaboration is a state of mind. The fivepiece collective – consisting of Tanzanian multiinstrumentalist Msafiri Zawose, producer Photay and Penya members Magnus P.I, Lilli Elina and Jimmy le Messurier – is an artistic pursuit founded on community;a space in which to harness the transformative power of connection. Translated from Swahili, ‘wema’ means kindness and benevolence – virtues that lie at the core of the project, and are reflected in the group’s worldembracing approach to music. “WEMA is a state of gratitude and belief, without sorrow or grief. It’s about giving your entire heart,” Msafiri declares.
The self-titled album is an intoxicating, dancefloorindebted blend of traditional Tanzanian music, AfroLatin rhythms and experimental electronic music, with the majority of lyrics sung in Swahili and Spanish. It’s a smorgasbord of sounds, moods and textures that call on
the very ethos of the band; the pursuit of cohesion and togetherness in a fractured world. Through this lens, WEMA is a near-spiritual listen, invoking the sacred sounds of their global influences. The tape-delayed vocal samples and sparse industrial clangs of Kande are reminiscent of the kind of deconstructed beats you might find in a closing club set. Bendir Bendir’s pointillist soundscapes are juxtaposed with a warm chorus of Msafiri’s layered harmonies. Msafiri Jam Pt 2, with its uptempo percussion and atmospheric background noise, features the undulating hornwork of groundbreaking Afro-Cuban trumpeter Yelfris Valdes. There’s a palpable optimism running through WEMA; it’s raw, unfiltered music that is as danceable as it is soul-stirring.