Stella Chiweshe - Double Check


"Double Check" - Stella Chiweshe

Stella Chiweshe - Double Check

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  • Artist:Stella Chiweshe
  • featured artist:Sabah Habas Mustapha
  • region:Africa
  • release year:2006
  • style(s):
    • Afro
    • Trance
  • country:Zimbabwe
  • catalogue numberPIR1900
  • formats:
    • CD

Stella Chiweshe became the first PIRANHA recording artist way back in 1987. In Zimbabwe she is called the Grandmother of Traditional Music: a woman of magic and mystery, a healer. On her first double album she walks between worlds.

On TRANCE HITS, a recording Stella created in Zimbabwe, she journeys through the world of her ancestors, preserving their traditions. A mystical album with references to spirits, a policeman possessed by the sounds of the m'bira, and a singing fish, it also includes a song she dreamed her grandmother sang to her. Her singing, drumming and mbira (thumb piano) playing connects the earth with the spirits. There is a startling, stark depth to the music. The drums control the song while Chiwese's Shona vocals float like dreams over the rhythm. But it's certainly not all ethereal.
On CLASSIC HITS she revisits the urban streets in Harare and calls on the younger, westernized generation to take pride in their own culture. Now that is very much of this world! She revisits some of the classic tracks, backed by her vintage band, the Earthquake, and definitely rocks the dance floor. Beyond convention (and quite possibly beyond this world), Chiwese makes music for the feet and the soul.


"Apart from being a virtuoso musician---her playing forms much of the backbone of both discs, although never flashily, but the underpining of it all---she's also a powerful and persuasive singer, one of the great, if largely unknown, African artists of her generation. This collection, which gives her the chance to show her wares at length, truly does her justice, because she's an artist best heard at length, and explored in proper depth to be fully appreciated."

Apart from being a virtuoso musician---her playing forms much of the backbo

"This two-CD set is both a new chapter and a career retrospective for one of Zimbawe’s most innovative roots musicians."

Banning Eyre, Boston Phoenix Aug 18 2006

"A double CD from Stella Chiweshe, one labelled Trance Hits, the other Classic Hits. So much is clear. But listen as I might, it's surprisingly difficult to arrange any critical thoughts about her music. It exists so much in itself, a complete system, upfront and straightforward for all but still magical and elusive, that it's hard to listen to it in any other spirit than the one for which it was intended. The mbira or thumb piano, small and unassuming instrument from which Ms Chiweshe weaves her sonic fabric, is in Zimbabwe more than an instrument: it is the means through which communication with the spirit world is made possible. This is eminently plausible. Just to take in the somewhat ghostly plinky-plonk notes of the splayed metal tongues, rolling in changing sequence like pocket church bells, is already to take a step out of the ordinary world. This sound can be most effectively incorporated into modern groove music- and like the West African kora, it transforms what it touches."

fROOTS 03-2006

"The mbira - a metal toothed thumb piano - was a taboo instrument for Zimbabwean women before Stella Chiweshe took it upon herself to change all that. And for the past 40 years she's been perfecting her skill on this hypnotic instrument, developing a loyal fanbase throughout the world whilst playing anywhere from major concert halls to weddings and funerals. CD1 of 'Double Check' consists of new recordings and has more of an ambient, trancy vibe.CD2 has a poppier more urban feel: it's a kind of greatest hits and even includes a track from a 1998 John Peel session. But the one constant throughout this collection is the hard to describe, but easy to listen to, intimate, percussive liquidity of the humble mbira."

Metro, Howard Male, 20.02.06

"Piranha has done itself and Chiweshe a service by providing the second disc in this set, a "Classic Hits" collection of thirteen pieces mostly recorded from 1988-1990 in Europe with her Earthquakes band. (Chiweshe made the first recording on the German label, which is now celebrating its 100th release by returning to where it started.) It's interesting to hear how much this archival material is oriented toward danceable rhythms, song form and the electric mbira sound.
If, as the liner notes claim, "Zungunde" (disc two, track seven) was improvised in the studio, then this band had a really impressive natural chemistry, because it comes across as a fully organized but also spontaneous jam. "Chachimurenga" takes political struggle to a plateau of reverberant bass and mbira-based groove. The liner notes go a long way to explaining the message behind the music, as well as Chiweshe's own ideas about things, and they're a mandatory stop on the way to fully appreciating this music.

All About Jazz, May 2006

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