Before travelling to Europe for the first time to play a few handpicked shows in spring of 2019, The Zonke Family were a well-kept secret among a close-knit circle of ethnomusicologists, being widely marginalized inside their local community and ignored by their country's society at large.
The matepe style, whose last flame keepers the family resembles, hails from borderlands to Mozambique and considered the most complex type of mbira. Within ensembles of two, three, or more players, each musician is juggling up to four independent melodic lines at tremendous speed. Matepe music’s rhythm and harmony are extraordinarily many-faceted and ambiguous, and its sound is of enormous spectral complexity.
To make the most of their premier trip abroad, the family members went to Berlin's Philophon studio to lay down almost three hours of breath-taking music under the tutelage of producer Max Weissenfeldt.
"The Zonke Family - At The Studio", selection of the music captured on tape will come out as the first release out on Philophon's new sublabel Lokalophon in spring 2020.
Combining ancient traditions and contemporary sound technology, "At The Studio" has the potential to become a future Afro-psychedelic classic.