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Published: 2009/06/22
by Randy Ray

ReCreation – Zap Mama

Heads Up
Mellowed-out international sonic cuisine isnt what it used to be. Indeed, now it is less specific about world music pretensions, as local economic meltdowns have derailed global financial markets and, ironically, brought forth a truly unified one world dilemma. And to Zap Mama, embedded within African, European, and South American cultures, this crisis means more chill and Brazilian motifs, less tension and bear markets.

ReCreation is a 13-song platter focusing on rebirth and rejuvenation of the spirit with a firm grasp of danceable diversions. Neither a pastiche of styles, nor a lazy samba through multiple cultures, the outfit delivers a consistently relaxing way to find a new sense of purpose without sacrificing fundamental principles. Zap Mama began in the early 1990s as an a cappella quartet, signed to David Byrnes Luaka Bop label, and eventually fronted exclusively by Marie Daulne, the founding and driving force of the group. Here, Daulne—Congo-born and Belgium-raised—finds her original inspiration in the romantic imagery and often playful musical beats found in Brazil and elsewhere after a trip to Rio de Janeiro to record one track ignited a spark that led to a dozen-plus-one tunes recorded in South America and everywhere.

There are numerous collaborations on the album, which somehow seamlessly blend in with the various musicians who all help to fulfill the blissed-out Daulne artistic vision. Two of Daulnes original quartet (Sylvie Nawasadio and Sabine Kabongo on Singing Sisters) appear with the vocalist on an enjoyable hip shaker, another quartet of a different flavor offer duets that loop around entanglement (Bilal on The Way You Are), and heavy flirtation (Vincent Cassel on Paroles Paroles and Non, Non, Non), with a downtempo glance at the hard life of the traveling musician (G. Love on Drifting).

Another interesting match-up appears as Daulne, Yassine Daulne, and Papi Pyapyane deliver vocals over a very locked-in rhythm section of Tony Allen on drums and Meshell Ndegeocelo on bass, while G. Love guests on harmonica. This performance on a song called African Diamond signals the closing thematically-united section of the album. Harlem ebbs between trance and hip hop while also circling elements of West African music. Togetherness continues the rhythmic descent to a comforting resolution as the tune lingers along a path of reflection and hope for the future, but it is the aforementioned Non, Non, Non, which follows, and solidifies the notion that all we have in this weird one world is each other and, sometimes, it is only the person sitting across the table. Alas, while he asks the question, she is still saying negative thrice. Chill for now.

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