Track of the Week "Masangango" is a beautifully layered track by Mokoomba, a Zimbabwean sextet that fuses traditional Tonga music with both soca music's Carribean rhythms and the Congolese genre soukous. The moniker of this Victoria Falls-based band is the Tonga name for the Zambezi River, whose influence washes over the culture of the surrounding people. The introductory guitars give way to the effusion of Mathias Muzaza's cooling vocals, which seem to flow effortlessly from one note to the next. As the brass and backing vocalists pour in, the bass and guitars create a swirl of sounds that are pure and clean, addled with flavoursome whistles and hums. Meticulously placed phrases and riffs doused in emotion and longing make for a track with an extensive range of timbres and textures.
Definitely not new to the music scene, Mokoomba started with members who relied heavily on the local community of the Chinotimba township to lend them their instruments, ears and musical talent. They played local restaurants, busked for tourists and soaked in all of the different cultures they came across in this border-town where people frequently came and went. In 2008, they scooped up a win from the Music Crossroads InterRegional Festival, which propelled them to incredible popularity across the globe. One of the most compelling attributes of this band is their ability to weigh out their many tools at hand: like a baker who needs to get the chemistry just right, they measure out just how much they need to put in or leave out.
Muzaza takes lead vocals and percussion, while Trustworth Samende is on guitars, Abundance Mutori on bass, Donald Moyo on keys, Miti Mugande on percussion, and finally Ndaba Coster Moyo on drums and the odd beatbox. All share backing vocal duties when the need arises. Mokoomba's music speaks directly to the band's connection to African life, performing songs about love, illness, everyday Zimbabwean goings on and the band's long journey to popular success. They have performed all over Europe, North America and Africa, including live on the BBC's "Later with Jools Holland" show. Their rich harmonious sound speaks of their ingenuity in combining their talents but also of their perseverance.