Big Chief Mkuja-Thursday 15th November 2012
Review: Iceberg by Virginie Guichaoua (translation)
A Tarabiscotic name a damp pocket that you might find on the pavement. Mkuja is a secret entity arising from nowhere and giving to those enthusiasts who were up with ' lo fi' all the more reason to smile.
Sometimes one falls in love with a group on the basis of one track heard somewhere in the distance. One can follow on and listen more or less deeply to the presentation. Suddenly one finds that your love has landed on a scalped head or perhaps in total comfort where all is well. Dont ask us where this group comes from we would only guess at the south west of England somewhere, perhaps Bath? However Big Chief Mkuja must come from the moon. From a planet where one could sit and while away the time often listening to this album, reliving happy moments or just musing about good times once had, with far off memories of distant past . Better than this you see because once again you can simply enjoy a group and even easily remove a little dross or the undesirable bits from your plate no conditions and no fancy thrills.
Our attention to this curiosity which seems to take a maligned pleasure from the boiling in the witches cauldron is drawn at first to the title Mermaid. A home made track however with delightful voices, the under tones of War & Peace and a fantastical echoing keyboard that teases with a psychedellic tear. Without mentioning this house track in the same breathe as Ariel Pink would make them green with jealousy. A collection of tracks this album which came out at the beginning of the year could sound similar to The Beta Band with Syd Barrett. Your feet will keep tapping the rythms all day before deciding which of the two have settled in your head. A disc created by Hipsters Jack Godwin? and Mike Ware? Certainly someone more used to dry school runs in Cardboard boxes with Jad Fair and R. Stevie Moore wisely taking notes in the classroom at their desks from fellow pupils. Involve yourself in spite of this and launch yourself into this odd collection of tunes and you will see that everything holds together perfectly well.
As its title of ?Surprise? makes us ready to take a sacred tour and attracts us towards the refrain which sounds as if it is from a (shrimp)creve-coeur(You can make houses out of bricks and stones, you can make heroes out of flesh and bones, you can find answers to the great unknown, but you can?t live without love)that makes the listener keep a finger permanently on the repeat button. Cosmic Drone for its part could apparently lead you to meet imaginatively somewhere between The Clean and MGMT who could have had an idea of finding themselves together to play for themselves in a damp cellar. This ?Noemi? vapour could attach itself to your gums like wet chewing gum which would have to be spat out to no longer to block your throat.
Sailing for a long time(too long?) alone in troubled waters of the WEB 2.0 happily strongly this Iceberg has decided to emerge and reveal itself to us. Big Chief Mkuja merits becoming bigger than that because you know why? These guys there in spite of their dancing near the punk era know how to write good songs.
Review by Paul Jarvis (artist &musician)
Have listened to the Big Chief Mkuja, not once but twice and have to say generally that I'm very impressed. These are the words I wrote down whilst listening- quirky, unusual, odd, not without charm, imaginative, sometimes shaky other times subime. Reminders of Robert Wyatt, the great Don Van, early Beatles, George Harrison, XTC,Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett and Englishness. Favourites have to be Train Song and Mermaid, though I have to say they've all got something. Only one I'm not too keen on is Red Carpet. Love Davina's artwork...all in all a good piece of work......can't say fairer than that!