Review Rating: 8/10

Although strictly speaking not a recent album, but after incorporating our predisposed 'African timing' into the review process, the Magic Box earns a mention in this month's music review.

Not usually associated with prominent musical instruments in African folk music, the Magic Box is a guitar masterpiece showcasing the enormous richness of traditional music across the African continent. Teaming up with Cameroon's Francis Bebey, the great guitarist that is John Williams explores the rhythms of Africa using a variety of guitar styles and very rhythmic hand drumming.

This 15-track album is sure to captivate your hearts with the influence of musical life throughout Africa; and although each track is unique in style of music, instruments and cultural origin, undoubted favourite tracks include; track 1: O Bia. The track is in the rhythm of a makossa, one of Cameroon's most popular dances, however, the arrangement is different from music often associated with the makossa; track 2: Township Kwela. Based on two South African traditional dances, a round dance leading into a kwela. This track gives a flavour of South African music not often heard in these parts; track 3: Maki. Music of Madagascar, this track gives a bright and warm sound from the island; track 8: Mitopa. Another 'easy-life' rhythmic track from Madagascar captures the mood of the islands; track 10, 15: Guitar Makossa, Sangara.

These are typical makossas played with a fork and beer bottle, and needless to say, these tracks will have you reaching for the same; track 13: Nkosi Sikelel'i Afrika. The well-known ANC anthem is sang by the African Children's Choir in the original Xhosa language. However, the song is arranged to transcend the anthem from its Christian hymn origins to convey a universal spirit.

For any guitarist or anyone who shares a rare interest in classical music inspired by the rhythms of Africa, this album is a must-have; and for those who dare to diversify their musical taste, this album will make a bolding statement in your collection, as we celebrate the experience and contribution of Africa in cross-cultural art and entertainment developments, since the last decade.

By: Anthony Ajeigbe





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