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Music  >>  Vinyl  >>  International

Abatwa (The Pygmy)

Why Did We Stop Growing Tall?

Abatwa (the Pygmy) Why Did We Stop Growing Tall? Lp
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The Abatwa ("pygmy") are one of Africa's most endangered peoples. This album -- produced by Ian Brennan (Hanoi Masters (GB 021CD/LP), Zomba Prison Project, Tinariwen) -- is a stunning, spirited document of their deep and varied musical culture. The fourth volume in Glitterbeat's Hidden Musics series, it collects rough-hewn, tribal sonics from the Rwandan borderlands, where haunted solo and group singing meets hand-fashioned string instruments and battery-operated loop machines. The textures are strange and abstract but at the same time intimate and joyful. Performers include: Christoph Ntabanganyimana, Bihoyiki Dathive, Emmanuel Hatungimana, Teonesse Majambere, Beatrice Mukarungi, Rosine Nyiranshimiyimana, Ruth Nyiramfumukoye, Patrick Manishimine, Jean Claude Nzabonimpa, Jean Baptiste Kanyambo, Emmanuel Habumuremy, and Ange Kamagaju.

Notes by producer Ian Brennan: "In a land where men lead each other hand-in-hand, but homophobia runs rampant, we drove off the main road and miles up the ridge to one of the pockets hardest hit by the genocide -- a place where the residents stopped waving back. An area so very isolated, it was as if the genocide had never ended. Topping that, we were traveling this dirt trail with two Tutsis in an area where they had recently been 'hunting Rwandans,' and a sense of discomfort was tangible, as if an invisible line had been crossed and we'd entered ibiwa ('problems'). . . . The Abatwa ("pygmy") tribe is identified as one of the most marginalized, voiceless and endangered populations in Africa. In fact, their name is frequently taken in vain as a generalized slur towards others unrelated to them. Still, many among their group prefer the term to the official, PC mouthful/post-genocidal replacement moniker that they have been straddled with out of clear overcompensation: 'The people who were left behind because of the facts of Rwandan history.' . . . We were lucky enough to experience a 19-year-old female freestyle rapper, Rosine Nyiranshimiyimana, who is grittier than most any gangsta'. And right by her side, stood, Emmanuel Hatungimana, the mohawk-cut traditional music master, along with the husband/wife team that traded in eerie harmonies that nearly make Black Sabbath sound a bit trite. And keeping it in the family, mother and son, Ruth Nyiramfumukoye and Patrick Manishimine struck dueling Umudulis. A featured instrument is the 11-string Icyembe, one that has a resemblance not unlike a surfboard and when turned upright, stands taller than some of its Abatwa players."

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