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World Music CD Reviews Africa

THE MOTHERS

By Derek Beres
Published June 27, 2006

Township Sessions
Mr. Bongo

Upset by poor health conditions in South Africa, the Philani Mothers formed in 1986 to combat disease with music. The group consisted of local women raising awareness of social and nutrition issues, releasing a 1998 cassette entitled The Philani Mothers Lyrical Health Messages. Perhaps London-based producer Peter Raeburn took his cue from the successful reworking of Kalahari natives on the two-disc set Sanscapes. Issuing the elements to various remixers including Nitin Sawhney, Zero 7 and Layo and Bushwacka, ­ The Mothers: Township Sessions features 10 stellar renditions of these Xhosa folk songs. While created by a variety of talented hands (the record flows gorgeously, ranging from downtempo, chilled tracks to upbeat floor rockers), coherent continuity is achieved. Moving from the vocally-driven, smoothed-out “Breathe Together,” tweaked by Tom Kenyatta, to Faze Action’s “Support,” a percussive-led house crusher, there’s plenty to keep dance floors alive. The seamless segue from soft to slamming is intact, making this landmark record thoroughly enjoyable, on more levels than one can imagine.