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A Ma Zone

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Album Review

Zap Mama's last album was the first one to incorporate instrumental sounds into the group's six-voice a cappella mix; it was also the first to include male voices. On A Ma Zone, group leader Marie Daulne has expanded the exploration of American R&B and hip-hop that she began with Seven. Breakbeats, jazzy upright bass, and turntable manipulation are now a part of the mix — a mix that was already rich with European and West African influences. "Gissie" draws most deeply on Daulne's Central African Pygmy roots, with its call-and-response structure and her unearthly yodeling; "Rafiki," which opens the album, is a collaboration with Black Thought (of the Roots) that segues beautifully into "W'Happy Mama," on which Daulne shows off her own speed-rap flow (in French, of course). "'Allo 'Allo" and "Call Waiting" both hint at her ongoing obsession with the telephone, an instrument that she seems to find mildly repellent but can't seem to ignore. Everything on this album is both complex and immediately accessible, simultaneously deeply funky and sweetly gentle. Very highly recommended.


Formed: 1990

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Zap Mama is an all-female a cappella quintet founded by Zaire native Marie Daulne. Daulne's father was killed during the revolution of 1960 while her mother was pregnant with her, so the remainder of the family fled to the forests and found refuge with a tribe of pygmies. Daulne was raised primarily in Europe, but when she heard a recording of traditional pygmy music at age 20, she decided to return to Africa to learn about her heritage. She was trained in pygmy onomatopoeic vocal techniques before...
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A Ma Zone, Zap Mama
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