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June 1997

Zap Mama
7
Luaka Bop

For another brand of female vocal presence entirely, check out Zap Mama's new album, 7 (Luakabop 46486; 60:12), an enthralling and gently progressive display of musical invention that cuts neatly across the African/Western pop lines of demarcation. At the helm is Belgian/Zairean singer Marie Daulne, forced out of her native country of Zaire as an infant, but who continues to explore her Zairean roots, including the culture and vocal gymnastics of pygmies. The album kicks off tellingly with the experimental effervescence of "Belgo Zairoise," replete with doowop passages and a reggae coda. She nods to both boogie and gnawan music in "Baba Hooker" (as in John Lee). Throughout the album (so named for the Pygmy notion of the "seventh sense," the power to heal), Daulne freely mixes melodic vocal techniques with creative new vocal concepts and spoken word bits. The jungle hearth meets the urban vortex in the most intriguing way.

Originally published in June 1997
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