Mix of the Best
The coincidences and twists of fate which brought The Very Best together beggar belief. There’s Esau Mwamwaya, a Malawian singer living in London and looking after a second-hand shop. Then there’s Etienne Tron, the French half of production duo Radioclit, who wanders into said shop to buy a cheap second-hand bike. The next thing you know, a collaboration between Mwamwaya and Radioclit’s Tron and Johan Karlberg is born and Warm Heart Of Africa is in the oven.
Once you lock into this joyous, exuberent album, though, you soon forget all about the back story. This is an infectious sound which skips and jumps from pillar to post without ever hanging around long enough to acquire the bad habits of any one genre. It is truly globetrotting, interplanetary pop. What’s most exemplary about this collaboration is how both sides maintain a democracy by bending and twisting to the stylistic quirks of each other. Even when splayed against Radioclit’s banging electro-strut, Mwamwaya’s vocals still maintain a joyous, wide-beamed, innocent appeal. The production duo in turn are not slow to dial down the electronics when the song requires a softer, lighter touch.
Their guests fit right into this cosmopolitan coming together without causing any ripples on the surface. Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Keonig continues his Afropop dalliances on the contagious, feelgood title track, while a strident, forthright MIA pops up on
Rain Dance to give it socks. But even when it’s just the three Very Best chaps at work, the album hums with harmonic, melodic glee.
Sure, Warm Heart Of Africa will be tagged “world music”, chiefly because Mwamwaya sings in his native Chichewa tongue, but don’t be put off. Like the musicians themselves, take a leap into the unknown and see where you land. www.myspace.com/theverybest myspace