TAKULA is a five piece band whose already accomplished members come from Malawi and Norway. It comprises Peter Mawanga [Vocals, guitar, percussion]; Faith Mussa [Vocals, guitar percussion]; Marlyn Chakwera [Vocals, percussion]; Samuel Mkandawire [Vocals, bass, guitar, percussion]; Georg Buljo [guitars, percussion]
Takula is the eponymous first album from the group and It contains re-imagined and reinterpreted songs that are drawn from the archives of MBC, the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, the country’s sole recording facility for decades. MBC amassed a huge archive of thousands of pieces of music, a rich heritage of old radio sessions and field recordings. The audio had been conserved on tapes and acetates but the modern incarnation of MBC lacked equipment that would retrieve this vital oral and musical history. Up stepped veteran Norwegian broadcaster and African music aficionado Sigbjørn Nedland, who knew that Norwegian State broadcaster NRK had vintage tape machines that were gathering dust in places like the country’s largely superfluous Civil Defence radio station, originally built to broadcast to the nation if things went belly up during the early days of the Cold War. Thus in 2014, in a poetic coalition of their different reliquaries, one broadcaster’s antique equipment helped another to unlock and digitise [to date over 5000] timeless recordings that were to remain otherwise inaccessible. Sigbjørn’s initiative found a willing co-sponsor for the MBC in the Norwegian Embassy to Malawi in Lilongwe.
As a purveyor of African music to a passionate Nordic audience, Sigbjørn heard many good Malawian musicians, but, with the archive inaccessible, their own culture played so little part in the recorded music they grew up hearing on the radio. It was a minority who maintained and developed a style that would identify their music as uniquely Malawian. Research however led Sigbjørn to musicians keen to break the country’s music into new territories. His introduction of four Malawian musicians and singers to Georg Buljo led to recording an album that would draw on the MBC’s newly uncovered archive. In a final plot twist, Georg and Sigbjørn approached Giles Perring, a UK musician with a reputation for his own fresh approach to creating roots music records, to mix and release the album on his newly established XA label.
So we have ‘Takula’ - songs of pain, renewal and freedom, that look first to the past and then speak to the future. Traditional Malawian harmonies, rhythms and sounds meld beautifully with an articulate and hooky set of pop signposts that come straight from the North. The deluxe CD edition expands the sense of a band unlocking their history so as to grab and run with of their destiny by bringing you 6 pieces from the MBC archive, each of which can be directly related to a track on the new album.