There's an alluring place where the mystique of the African continent meets the complexity of the Western world. It's a place where rhythm and beauty, myth and melody, history and harmony converge. It's a place where anything is possible. For more than 15 years, the musical entity known as Zap Mama has stood at that crossroads. Born in the Congo to an African mother and Belgian father, harbored by pygmies in the forest in the midst of revolution, and raised in the predominantly French culture of Belgium, vocalist and founder Marie Daulne is not only a living map of the world, but a purveyor of its rich stories and an ambassador to all of its diverse cultures. A brilliant songwriter and performer, she distills and reflects creative energy from an infinite array of sources and beams it back to the world with a brilliance that is unsurpassed.
A sprawling example of "world groove," Zap Mama's sixth album is further proof that in these interconnected times the musical world really is shrinking. Born in the Congo and raised in the French culture of Belgium, Zap Mama founder and driving force Marie Daulne has always ignored the barriers between musical genres like so many outdated speed limits on a dusty highway, but on Supermoon
she dips into so many styles--Afropop, R&B, hip-hop, funk--as to reduce those barriers to a delightful irrelevancy. Helped by a smorgasbord of big-name collaborators--Me'shell N'degeocello, Tony Allen, and Spearhead's Michael Franti all guest for one track each--Daulne turns African pygmy music into a rollicking club anthem on "Gati," borrows James Brown's "Payback" guitar riff on "Toma Taboo," uses the intricate polyrhythmic arrangement of "Go Boy" for a touching tale of an African immigrant, and evokes modern soul singers like Macy Gray on the title track. Through it all, the intricate vocal arrangements and production that are Zap Mama's trademark--performed largely by Daulne herself--never fail to astonish. --Ezra Gale