TAJ MAHAL:

Mkutano

Tradition & Moderne

Taarabblues

 

Taj Mahal made a new adventure trip, this time to Zanzibar, whose music because of its geographic position is influenced both by Arabic (especially Egyptian), Asian and African music. His musical partners, Culture Musical Club, are already known to some readers of Lira, through their concert at Falu Folk Festival in 2004, partially broadcast by Swedish national TV and radio.

Mkutano climbed all the way up to the fourth position at the World music list, and has already got both classic and cult properties, even if it has received some criticism both from blues purists and others who find the record uneven. Maybe so, but that may be some of charm about this record.
The opening track starts as a regular blues, until these strings start to sneak in with a few sliding tones here and there. Done Changed My Way Of Living also sounds quite ordinary until the duet with the 93-year-old female singer Bikidude, whose voice through age has settled down in an even range deeper than Tajís blues voice.

The line-up spans over a string section (with a sound far from Swedish folk fiddles of Balkan violins), a few accordions, zither, upright bass etc. And Tajís own banjo and excellent guitar, not to be forgotten.

The proportions vary in this mix. Some songs are taarab spiced with blues, and sometimes we hear the reverse. The songs where these two elements are really fused together might be the most interesting ones. The second track, Muhogo wa Janíombe, starts remarkably with a melody that is very close to Scandinavian folk music, yet another proof that all music belongs together, thereby uniting the listeners.

 

Annika Westman