Valweli Va Yesu - O: Xikwembu

Saturday 1st September 1990
Valweli Va Yesu - O: Xikwembu

STYLE: World
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Go! Global 842443

Reviewed by James Attlee

An esoteric delight, this one. Valweli Va Yesu are a 20-strong gospel choir from the Giyani region of South Africa, led by Magnet Lasi Ntombele, composer of all ten tracks of the album. They sing in the Tsonga language — their name means "Messengers of Jesus" and the albums title "O Lord". The album was recorded in a tiny Johannesburg 16-track, and features the choir's voices uncluttered by any instrumenta­tion apart from the occasional handclap. And what voices!   18 women and ten men blend and interweave voices amid the intricate arrangements with the emphasis mostly staying on ensemble singing rather than featured soloists, making a sound together that's both joyful and so intense as to be almost mournful at times.  The basses boom breathily, tenors make use of an eerie tremilo effect, and the sopranos sound at one moment powerful and at the next vulner­able in the purity of their harmonies. Africa is overflowing with Christian artists of whom names famous here already like Ladyship Black Mambazo are only the fore-runners. Valweli Va Yesu have been known to perform to crowds at religious festivals at home of up to three million.  Let's hope the current interest in World Music facilitates UK releases for many artists of such a high calibre.   Seek and you will find.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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