Sunday, December 04, 2005

Scanner's International Band

Not found on the internet either. Type in Scanner's International Band and all you get is tons of websites about scanners!
Here is a small introduction to the pop music of that troubled country Zimbabwe that may shed some light -

"In many cases, political unrest and social upheaval create a musical atmosphere that is ripe for change. Zimbabwe's Second Chimurenga, better known to foreigners as the Rhodesian War, was this catalyst. Chimurenga guitar was the first incarnation of electric Zim music.

The Chimurenga sound developed during the liberation struggle of the 1970s. As most Zimbabwean bands continued to play European covers, a few unique artists looked towards their own culture for inspiration. Thomas Mapfumo, arguably Zimbabwe's top artist, was the nation's Chirmurenga pioneer.

Looking inward, Mapfumo worked to base his music on his own Shona culture. The music, which finds its roots in traditional spiritual tradition, relies heavily on the mbira for inspiration. Rhythms and melodies from the mbira are transcribed for guitar and feature prominently in the songs. The lyrics usually contain a traditional moral message, or a more current, political tone. The mbira is present in many songs as well. Danceable yet relaxing, chimurenga sometimes has a trance-inducing quality to it. Mapfumo's band-mate, Jonah Sithole, is another Chimurenga pioneer. His work in transcribing mbira onto the guitar, as well as Mapfumo's elements of European rock and Caribbean reaggae made Chimurenga an infectious success. At the height of the voilence, the people of Zimbabwe relied of this music as the war for independence raged on. Robson Banda, backed by his band the Black Eagles, was another chimurenga icon who produced a number of hits during the 1970s and 1980s.

The South African Influence

Other artists, however, looked south for inspiration. Artists such as Oliver Mtukudzi found South African music as an appealing base for his emerging musical style. Another Zimbabwean icon, "Tuku" incoporated elements of Township Jive, Mbaqanga, and Jazz into his musical melange. Vocalist James Chimombe melded South African music with Country & Western influences to create some of the 1980s most memorable songs. Meanwhile, vocalist Zexie Manatsa, backed by the Green Arrows incorporated Mbaqanga, Chimurenga, and local cultural variations into his unique traditional-contemporary mix."

More about the music of Zimbabwe HERE.

Scanner's International Band - Makorokoto

Scanner's International Band - Baba Na Amai

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spice-the-cat said...

Makorokoto is a pretty good tune - I notice the writing credit on the label is Peter Tembo - I wonder if there's any connection with the late Biggie Tembo of Zimbabwe's Bhundu Boys?

spice-the-cat said...

Also recorded at Harare's Shed Studios - the same place where the Bhundu's started their recording career.

michael said...

Quite right Spice. I imagine he is a relative of some kind. Very slack of me not to mention the Bhundu Boys. I have a few old Zimbabwe singles sent to me by DJ Charlie Gillett so some more may appear here at some point or other as they are all great though very similar sounding.