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Tonga Boys offer Afro‑punk album recorded in a temple

The malawian experimenters join Doctor Kanuska Group on Umoyo Wa Muthempire (Live In the Temple), a concert held in an unlikely destination: a temple in the Northern Mzimba region. 

Tonga Boys (Albert, Guta, Solomon, Myrias and “MadMax” Peter) is a band from Mzuzu, Malawi. Famous for music that incorporates plastic buckets, axes and cans into electronic soundscapes, they have three projects under their belt, released by the dynamic 1000HZ label. For this, their fourth record, the musicians journeyed to the thempire temple, home to Doctor Kanuska Msowoya, a well-respected figure in Northern Mzimba who deals with spirits, women’s health and music through the notorious Doctor Kanuska Group. The temple doesn’t boast a stage or professional sound system, yet the result of this recording session is impressive nonetheless. Urban groups rarely perform in remote settings, outside of gospel missionary projects, and this project therefore represents a rare crossover moment.

The songs performed in the thempire reflect local styles. The Boys played with the vimbuza healing dance on “Ndijulereni Nthowa Mama (Mother, Show Me the Way),” a petition to spirits used by doctor Kanuska, and the malipenga dance on “Kadende (Cassava) – Somba.” They also showcased their dancehall chops on “CV,” a song about the ostracism of perpetrators of domestic violence, and “Sweet.” “Maji Ndimoyo (Water is Life),” which is already available, is a hymn to drinking water, as dozens of youth audience members join in on the refrain “Water!” which is accompanied by an acid-Afropunk beat. 

Umoyo Wa Muthempire (Live In the Temple), out on October 10 via 1000Hz Records.