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Ngcobo, Shiyani / Introducing Shiyani Ngcobo
Album:Introducing Shiyani Ngcobo Collection:World
Artist:Ngcobo, Shiyani Added:05/2004
Label:World Music Network 

A-File Activity
Add Date:2004-06-28 Pull Date:2004-08-30 Charts:Reggae/World
Week Ending:15 Aug1 Aug11 Jul4 Jul
Airplays:1232

Recent Airplay
1.Thu, 02 Sep 04:DR D
Sun in Libra Moon in Pisces
4.Wed, 28 Jul 04:Harry Inman
Civil Society
2.Tue, 10 Aug 04:Decca
At the Cafe Bohemian
5.Fri, 09 Jul 04:Fo
No Cover, No Minimum
3.Thu, 29 Jul 04:DR D
Sun in Libra, Moon in Pisces
6.Thu, 08 Jul 04:mike
Baptism of Solitude

Album Review
Gabe
Reviewed 2004-06-15 
Wow! This, to my (admittedly not-all-that-well-trained) ears, is the equivalent of Ali Farka Toure’s desert blues. Ngcobo performs a South African, and more specifically, KwaZulu style called maskanda, which requires a couple of signposts be passed – a short burst of instrumental prowess at the outset to establish presence, a bit of Zulu praise in the middle of the lyrics, which may otherwise be about completely non-Zulu topics, a certain rhythm that differs from one community to the next (Ngcobo is catholic in this respect, playing various rhythms). Maskanda is (according to the notes) in many ways a better signifier of Zulu identity and experience than any concrete objects or homelands, being as the Zulu people have frequently been on the move due to colonialism, apartheid, and various other upheavals. What does all this mean to you?
Ngcobo plays an igogogo, a type of guitar and sings, both of them in a style vaguely folksy but also undeniably passionate. His cohorts, where present, lay down sophisticated but understated grooves or contribute “whoa” solos or vocals. As for the Ali Farka Toure comparison at the outset, I merely wanted to make the point that both musicians successfully sweeten the roots of their respective musical cultures with a precisely-measured amount of Western pop sugar to produce music that has a sense of place (theirs) but also a sense of time (today). English translations of the lyrics are on the enclosed paper.

1. The picked guitar, rumbling bassline, and insistent violin form a prickly bed for the gorgeous vocals
2. Sweet concertina accents
3. Bare-bones guitar but the trio of beautiful voices gives this song that Ladysmith sound – sparse and lush together
4. Relatively rockin’ tune with killer violin and enthusiastic mid-tune rap
5. Roots maskanda – solo igogogo and vocals; truth be told, a bit too sparse
6. Chanting and singing
7. Rapidly picked acoustic guitar and vocals, the latter sometimes in a strained near-falsetto befitting the accusatory lyrics
8. Back to the more mellifluous small ensemble sound of the early tracks and the fuller melodic and harmonic content these enable
9. Stripped-down gtr-n-vox; insistent picking
10. Slower tempo; ostensibly the ballad of the album
11. Tight guitar-bass-violin arrangement carries a trio of harmonizing voices; cool
12. Guitar flurry and repetitive vocal lines drive this tune
13. Coolly picked and sung folk-blues tune that would fit on any American Folkways comp (minus the KwaZulu lyrics)
14. Acoustic guitar solo exhibiting, unadorned, the picking style used throughout the album

Track Listing
1.Yekanini 8.Wayi Thathapi
2.Izangoma 9.Ngeke Lithuhuke
3.Udadewetha 10.Ngisizeni
4.Senzeni 11.Isithembu
5.Sevilina 12.Akwehlanga Lungehlanga
6.Ijadu 13.Isithothobala
7.Izinyembezi 14.Kheta Eyakho