October 12th, 2009


[Boston] Zap Mama tonight

... Five women dressed in many colors are singing a rhythmic soundscape on the state. They bring it to a quiet, and silently place their wireless mics, in unison, on the wooden floor at their feet (clack-clack-clack-clack-clack). Slowly, one, then the others, tap their feet lightly, recreating the rhythm. They swoosh their thin, colorful scarves in the air in front of them, lightly almost-touching the mics in time with the music, adding a flowing windy sound as they begin to sing again...

I've seen several thousand live music performances, and the three times I saw Zap Mama stand out in my memory. They might possibly be the best band ever. Wikipedia has this:
    ... musical group founded and led by Marie Daulne. Daulne says her mission is to be a bridge between the European and the African and bring the two cultures together with her music. "What I would like to do is bring sounds from Africa and bring it to the Western world, because I know that through sound and through beats, that people discover a new culture, a new people, a new world." Zap Mama specializes in polyphonic, harmonic music with a mixture of heavily infused African instruments, R&B, and Hip-hop and emphasizes voice in all their music. "The voice is an instrument itself," says Daulne. "It's the original instrument. The primary instrument. The most soulful instrument, the human voice." They sing in French and English with deep African roots.

Actually they also sing in some African languages and in made-up sounds and nonsense syllables. Their use of vocal music pretty spoiled me for a capella. One song on their first album is a story about a drive: the rattling of the keys, the start of the ignition, the quiet roads, the sounds of passing on the highway, the crash, the ambulance... all without words in any language. On stage, I saw them act it out, be the car as they sang it.

Marie Dualne was born in the Congo to Belgian & Bantu parents, and grew up in Belgium with her Bantu mother after her father was killed; her music is very very much "world music", and deliberately so.

So, Zap Mama has a show at The Paradise in Allston tonight. Doors at 7pm, I guess the show is around 8:30.


Edit: Paradise Rock Club, 967 Comm Ave, 02215. On the Green Line B branch. $22, 18+