Gilbert Mulamba - Trustin' Him

Published Tuesday 6th June 2006
Gilbert Mulamba - Trustin' Him
Gilbert Mulamba - Trustin' Him

RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 17689-11202
LABEL: Independent
RRP: £10.00

Reviewed by Andrew Rolfe

Blind Willie Johnson, that old gospel blues king, once made a guitar: shoebox and goodness-knows-what-else. That's what I call determined. And it paid off, his music is still played today about 70 years after he went to Heaven to play before the King of Kings. Enter Gilbert Mulamba. Born in The Congo, he once built a guitar using brake cables and nails. Another determined young man. Aged nine he switched instrument and began to bash out tunes on an old missionary piano his dad bought. Later he gigged for two years with some folk from the American Embassy to afford his own electronic version. That all seems like a long time ago, faded, but the determination remains. Today we see Gilbert avec family and offspring having adopted the USofA as his home with his own recording label and a debut album. So has it all paid off? Is it any good? Let's go see. "Lord I Lift Your Name On High" is nearly five minutes of about a million different sounds: acoustic finger-picking brake wires, varied synth drumming, sax, African vocal samples. It hits you full in the face like a refreshing shower and doesn't let up. Easy jazz par excellence. I wanted more. Up next is "The Cross" and it slowly began to dawn on me that a full instrumental sound is Gilbert's trademark: a pleasant arrangement of flute, classical guitar, the ubiquitous sax, all very "come on and sit down and relax". Number three, "When The Spirit Of The Lord" is like a freight train powering through some south American Latino country. It doesn't let up till the old samba feeling kicks in setting the feet a tapping Afro-Brazilian style: it has everything except the background night crickets. "Amazing Grace" gets rendered next. A soft keyboard intro then the maracas begin, announcing a change of direction and we're thrust into jazzed up, kick bass, electric guitar, piano country. Again, I was left breathless by the onslaught of sound. Gilbert's deep layering is nothing short of excellent. The title song is next up. It's a jazz orchestra, a sea of sound. American rap voice and African language appear as islands, giving the focus in the vast blue. Another pleasing track. Five down six to go and I can't wait for the inter-track silence to end. "You Are My Hiding Place", "More Love More Power", self-penned "Upendo Zaidi" (a grab-you-by-the-ears electric guitar drama that glues you to the edge of your seat right in front of the speakers), and others. All songs share the jazz paradigm, but each is an individual: instrument only, rap, female soprano, sax-based, synthed-up, guitar-driven. Gilbert hopes the album will appeal across cultures to many people. I can imagine it doing so. He has produced a full-bodied and weighty album with long-term listening appeal well worth the investment.

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