Issue Date: December 5 - 11, 2003 The spiritually charged music of Zimbabwe’s Shona people has inspired a worldwide cult following. Recordings of the mbira, a 22-iron-pronged hand piano, circulate among the faithful but rarely make it into record stores. This one, coming from a new label specializing in Tanzanian music, stands out from the pack. Tirikoti is a phenomenon, in part because he uses a range of mbiras in different tunings to expand the instrument’s sonic range and in part because he plays with amazing speed and precision. Not that this is chops music — the magic comes from a hypnotic alchemy of interaction among musicians. On these seven tracks, Tirikoti and his nephew create a virtual village using overdubbing to build a complex mesh of mbira lines and rich choral passages of call-and-response with independent voices cutting across the harmonies. On "Usaore Moyo (Don’t Lose Heart)," the effect is joyous and bubbly; "Chinembiri Chii (What Is Popular?)" has a pulsing downbeat and mournful vocals. The layering results in occasional rhythmic looseness, but for the most part, the sound is natural, and crisply recorded to do justice to details. Another plus is the lyrics (well translated in the notes), which provide genuine insight into Shona culture.
The worldwide mbira community--those tuned into the lore of the sacred, Shona hand piano--have been buzzing for years about this prodigal musician. But it took a visit to Tanzania with his nephew to actually get Garikayi Tirikoti on record for the general public. Garikayi has a full ensemble in Harare, which we will someday hear from. In the meantime, this session he made for Limitless Sky in Tanzania is a tantalizing introduction. Garikayi is a phenomenon, in part because he uses a range of mbiras in different tunings to expand the instrument's sonic range, and in part because he plays with amazing speed and precision. Not that this is chops music. Rather, the magic comes from a hypnotic alchemy of interaction among musicians. On these seven tracks, Tirikoti and his nephew create a virtual village using overdubbing to build a complex mesh of mbira lines and rich choral passages of call-and-response with independent voices cutting across the harmonies. On "Usaore Moyo (Don't Lose Heart)" the effect is joyous and bubbly; on "Chinembiri Chii (What is Popular?)," a pulsing downbeat and achingly mournful vocals. "Kugara Hunzwara (Stay Together in Understanding)" features an unusual, broken rhythm on the hosho (shaker percussion). "Maidei," a love song, has a sweet hook and may be the catchiest track here. The layering technique results in occasional rhythmic looseness, but for the most part, the sound is surprisingly natural, and crisply recorded to do justice to details. Another plus is the lyrics, well translated in the notes, which provide genuine insight into Shona culture.
Maidei - Garikayi Tirikoti Mbira/Kalimba music from the heart of Africa - Tirikoti is genius Pros Amazing instrumentation, passionate spiritual flow - not to be missed Cons None I am aware of The Bottom Line The music of priests and wizards, Tirikoti has been captured playing the Zebra keys, and crossing over as well. Full Review Magic in the aire When Heart sang about a magic man, they probably did not have Garikayi Tirikoti in mind, but they should have. A small part of the volume that is Africa has been captured for the world to hear, and it is with finger harps/pianos. Sparks fly from his fingertips What is the Mbira, the Kalimbra? It is a finely tuned piano, formed of well-worked metal rods laid into woodwork. Sometimes they use gourds to give resonance and volume (home made amps). The Mbira is the base for a spiritual body of music from Zimbabwe – specifically that of the Shona people. Tirikoti has broken ground and crossed barriers within the sometimes-eerie world of this music. The music carries with it spiritual power, some say that there can be a very fine line between musician and wizard – maybe that is true everywhere. In a recent interview with his producer Michele Tyabji, he explained that Tirikoti’s family is responsible for the care and nurturing of what they call the Zebra tuning of the Mbira. Tirikoti further stepped into new musical worlds by making Mbira that are tuned to bridge the gaps between the Mbira and Kalimbra of varying African tribes and clans. He has written music for an orchestra of finger piano, unlike anything ever attempted. Maybe there is a lot of magic involved in joining people together musically, of crossing boundaries and life long feelings. The music will make you relax, it will make your heart rejoice. Feel the Flow The music flows, typically starting with a gentle finger pattern – played with many fingers and thumbs. Then slowly many kinds of percussion add along, differing drums and shakers and bells. The music begins to form itself into a chant, or a dance – and then the voices layer in. The percussion patterns are incredibly complex, with movements and changes that sometimes repeat and sometimes don’t. The Mbira is a constant flow under and around the percussion. Some high, some low – much of Tirikoti’s chant is his own voice. The finger harps make such happy rhythm. And then a chorus is joined in, making the chant – staying always within the powerfully loose confines of the flow. The music can feel chaotic if you thrive on pattern-based songs and strict form. Then as you discern the patterns, you can feel the fact that this music is very formal within’ it’s properly defined quadrants. The strictures being that you flow, that you make the noise joyful, that you play from your spirit. The Songs Themselves 1 - Usaore Moyo 2 - Kugara Hunzwara 3 - Chinembiri Chii? 4 – Mai Dei 5 – Chavechinyakare 6 – Sarirambi 7 - Chengeto And In the End Listen with the ears of your spirit, this is not music for the faint hearted. You have to be ready to move with the currents of the water, to float with the leaves as they sail about and to burn inside. This is the music of Mother Africa, and it has been designed to reach into your very spirit and inspire you to feel God flowing through the sounds. As you listen, you become a part of the consciousness, of the flow – of all that life has for us… one series of notes at a time.