"The Zimbabwean sextet dazzle with their infectious high-energy blend of rock, funk and Afrobeat" Tom Spargo/Jazz Cafe London
“It is a long time since Zimbabwe gave us some of the giants of African music but, in the mighty Mokoomba, there is finally a convincing successor … Lead singer Mathias Muzaza naturally grabs the attention with his stunning, piercing vocals [...] the band’s magic quality is the perfect gelling of guitar, bass, keyboard and African drums ... [and] impressive arrangements. - The Independent
Five years after the release of ‘Luyando’, Zimbabwe’s most celebrated music export returns with their long-awaited follow-up album ‘Tusona: Tracings in the Sand’. The six musicians from Victoria Falls are refining their unique sound: infectious Afro grooves deeply connected to Zimbabwe’s cultural DNA. ‘Tusana’ is their most danceable album to date, a DIY production recorded in Zimbabwe. It features horns by Ghanaian highlife outfit Santrofi. Every Sunday, there is a gathering in the sweltering heat on grounds of an old local beer hall in the Chinotimba township in Mosi-o-Tunya (Victoria Falls). Entertainment is provided by various traditional groups including the Luvale Makisi masquerade. It is a day full of singing, drumming, dancing and storytelling. Mokoomba’s lead vocalist Mathias Muzaza can often be found here singing with a voice both soaring and vulnerable. In the course of the afternoon the other band members - guitarist Trustworth Samende, bass player Abundance Mutori, keyboard player Phathisani Moyo, percussionist Miti Mugande and drummer Ndaba Coster Moyo - often join in with singing. The drum driven song “Bakalubale” featured on their new album invites you to this gathering.
Mokoomba recorded ‘Tusona: Tracings in the Sand’, the follow-up album to ‘Luyando’ (2017, Outhere), in Zimbabwe during the pandemic. Instead of working with outside producers like Manou Gallo or Steve Dyer as they have in the past, this album was entirely recorded in a DIY fashion by Mokoomba. The collective from Zimbabwe put in all the experiences made over the previous years and have forged their music into a unique Zimbabwean sound. On popular demand from their fans in Zimbabwe they have even re-recorded three songs from their last more acoustic album ‘Luyando’ turning them into dancehall bangers (featured on the CD and digital versions of the album). In short, this album is more Mokoomba than any of the ones before.
On the album Mokoomba are singing about love, loss, courage in a changing society. The first single “Nzara Hapana” means “no money” in Shona. The song talks about a man who wants to ensure the future of his wife and family and is trying to protect them against the greed of his relatives. The danceable up-tempo song “Nyansola” praises the goddess of harvest and asks her for rain. “Makisi” is sung in Luvale. It celebrates the beauty of the initiation ceremony for which the whole community comes together. “Manina” is a song about losing a loved one. It was written during the pandemic and features the young singer Ulethu from Harare.
Mokoomba sing in many different local languages. Their songs are in Tonga, Luvale, Shona, Nyanja and even Lingala used in “Makolo” when they team up with Congolese singer Desolo B. (The album also features horns by Nobert Wonkyi Arthur (trumpet), Bernard Gyamfi (trombone) and Emmanuel Arthur (sax) from Ghanaian highlife outfit Santrofi.)
Mokoomba is one of Zimbabwe’s most popular bands, playing with such icons as Hugh Masekela, Baba Maal and the Talking Head’s Tina Weymouth and Chris Franz. They’ve rocked legendary rooms and stages worldwide, from NYC’s Apollo Theater, and The Kennedy Center is Washington, D.C., to London’s 100 Club and Amsterdam’s Melkweg, to WOMAD, WOMEX and SXSW, sealing their reputation as one of Africa’s best young live bands.
“Mokoomba is quite simply the most impressive band Zimbabwe has produced in recent memory.” — Banning Eyre, Afropop Worldwide
"Saw 2 great African bands in 2 nights with same principle: bring together multiple cultures/minorities. Mokoomba from Zimbabwe--crisp with chameleon vocals--and Tal National from Niger, dizzying syncopations. Lesson: transcend tribalism. And not just for the great grooves".
“There’s an irrepressible energy, spectacular guitar work and a lot of soul” — Simon Broughton, London Evening Standard
"One of the most entertaining young bands in Africa … A natural entertainer, wearing a black hat and demonstrating some slick dance routines with the band, lead singer Mathias Muzaza has a powerful, soulful voice that is at times reminiscent of his great compatriot Oliver Mtukudzi, but also capable of hoarse, driving effects. He was backed by two percussionists, bass, a keyboard player who at times imitated the likembe thumb piano, and guitarist Trustworth Samende, who switched from South African township styles to funk. They were all impressive singers.” **** — Robin Denslow, The Guardian
"It was the fourth annual Africa Now! concert, presented by the Apollo and the World Music Institute; the public-radio program Afropop Worldwide recorded it for eventual broadcast. The quadruple bill squeezed the time for the other artists. Mokoomba a band from a border town in Zimbabwe, draws its music from across the continent, particularly southern Africa; its 2012 album, “Rising Tide” (Igloo), includes 12 songs in eight languages. So three songs were only a glimpse of Mokoomba’s capabilities— a glimpse that included a modal ballad with riveting, griot-strength lead vocals from Mathias Muzaza; a song rooted in the thumb-piano patterns of Zimbabwean tradition; and one that started with sweet, Congo-style vocal harmonies and grew into a crisp, irresistible soukous workout, complete with some synchronized dance steps. A full-length set would have been welcome." — Jon Pareles, The New York Times
“Saturday’s Highlight [of the Africa Oye Festival] was Mokoomba who stunned with their high energy, dancing together with joy and an infections rhythm. Mathias Muzaza's voice sounds like something between pebbles washing on a beach and a deep, guttural growl giving his emotional song to his parents an overwhelming potency. An outstanding finish to the first day.” ” — Anita Scott, Songlines
“Mokoomba has grown in the past five years, and whether the group goes back to a more high-energy sound in the future or stays here at its source, Mokoomba does its country’s music scene proud.” — Adriane Pontecovro, Pop Matters
"Mokoomba don’t rest for a second. They dance as if they are possessed by the vibes and grooves they play. Their performances are so cohesive that it looks like you’re participating in a music ritual … The gig was steadily upbeat and dance-inducing.” — Marco Canepari, Rhythm Passport
“The band's robust vocals, hypnotic harmonies and surprising guitar riffs leave a strong impression.” — T.L. Testerman, Taos News
“You have no choice but to dance when this Zimbabwe-based group performs their innovative mix of traditional Tonga and pan-African music with hints of rap, ska and Afro-Cuban music. Their infectious good vibes have long-lasting effects.” — Nancy Flores, Austin 360.com