The Kankobela of the Batonga

Track A1: Nchembele Musimbi Wangu, by Nyeleti Mukkuli

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The Kankobela of the Batonga

(180 grs vinyl LP)
Zambia and Zimbabwe 1996 and 2008, recordings by Michael Baird

The kankobela is the thumb-piano of the Batonga people who live either side of Lake Kariba in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Upon hearing this music you will ask yourself, is this not an acoustic instrument?! Indeed it is – the ‘distortion’ you hear is made by taking the membrane a mother spider spins around her eggs and stretching it over a small hole in the hardwood plank of the instrument to create that wonderful buzzing, and the ‘wah-wah’ effect is achieved by lifting the plank at one end slightly off and back on the resonator. The less taut the membrane, the heavier the buzz: Tongatronics, but without any electricity! Otherworldly songs, mesmerising time patterns – groovy, funky, ancient, modern. 8 tracks taken from the CDs SWP 036 and 039:

Side A: 1. Nchembele Musimbi Wangu, by Nyeleti Mukkuli, 2. Nkaambonzi Beenzuma, by Edward Mun'goma, 3. Kungoma, by Daunzi Munsaka, 4. Kwakasika Mbwelaani, by Johnny Mudenda. Total 19'13"

Side B: 1. Wakili Perfume, by Aaron Nchenje, 2. Saliya Ndakuleka, by Andrew George Munyumbwe, 3. Kwasyaala Piece Kufwa, by Leonard Mweemba Siapwayuma, 4. Ntwambonzi, by Timothy Mudimba. Total 18'58"

Songlines 2017 (GB): "Seven elderly masters of the disappearing kankobela expound their views on love, life and morality over a variety of tingling, tumbling, sometimes piano-like, sometimes heavily vibrating tones......a rich slice of a distant culture."