Local Wire

Zap Mama

Cultural music is what you get with Congolese-born Marie Daulne, best known as the founder and frontwoman of Zap Mama. The band's music draws from various influences without sticking to a single genre, surprising the listener at every turn. On "Toma Taboo," for instance, she borrows elements from '70s Brazilian funk, while on "Hey Brotha," she takes on reggae and electronic elements for a playful tune on the nature of friendship. The title track blends folk-rock and soul elements in a song that doesn't say much in terms of lyrical content, but has a catchy beat that gets the listener moving almost immediately. In a disc with so much musical exploration, some duds are always likely. "Affection," which has multilayered vocals over a percussion track, fails to excite, and the same goes for "Go Boy," which suffers from a lack of focus in a jazz-meets-African arrangement, though it features fine work by guest pianist Leon Pendarvis. The weak moments don't mar the experience as a whole, though. The mellow "Where Are You?" is worth the price of the CD alone, and the intriguingly complex "Moonray" will keep you coming back for more.
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Ernest Barteldes