Vincent Gono, Features Editor
A TOTALLY unusual setting for sungura music in a totally unthinkable language for lyrics – English, but after listening to the audio and seeing the video one gets the soothing feeling that it’s not about the language or what one is used to but the mastery of packaging that serves to confirm the dynamism of music as a revolving art.
Imagine the sound of an accelerating Ferrari, and the chiming guitar sounds of up tempo sungura. An imposing castle spread on a sward of lush green finely mown grass, men clad in chalk suits and then in another frame appear a minimalistic contrast of a beautiful woman being approached by a man riding a bicycle. This is followed by a nimble-footed white guy whose choreography can easily leave sungura giants in Zimbabwe green with envy.
They can actually take some notes from the white guy’s dance routines in the video.
This is just but the summary of the tone set by a sungura outfit – Kambo Boys based in the United Kingdom, all set in Yorkshire and Scottish scenery in their breathtaking views from a video for the song Sweet Larissa that has since been released and is gaining hits on youtube.
Kambo is a sungura outfit composed of three Zimbabwean artistes who have also teamed up with a white British friend.
The name Kambo reflects genre of music and an African feel to the group’s music, it is also musically correct as it simply means “a song” in Swahili.
Kambo music is recorded and produced at Monolio Studios with some of the recording being done at Hator Bros Entertainment Studios, Ray B studios and Kambo studios.
Monolio Studios in Harare is run by the legendary Clive Mono Mukundu, aka Gwenya-gitare Mono who is an adept guitarist whose fingers produce a trademark twang on guitar strings.
His touch on Kambo music is perfect, if not epic, with guitar melodies that enrich sungura sound in contemporary style.
The music trio says it is inspired by legends like Oliver Mtukudzi, Alick Macheso, Khiama Boys and rising stars Sulumani Chimbetu and Jah Prayzah.
“Like social commentators we write about what happens in day to day lives of people. Drawing inspiration from such experiences our music covers themes from love, motivation, corruption and even diaspora life,” said Kambo Boys from their base in the UK.
The group has previously been nominated for two ZIMA (Zimbabwe Music & Arts) awards after their ground breaking single — Melo. The song was nominated for best video while the group was nominated for Best Male group. Melo video was also ranked second on the Dstv channel, Zambezi Magic, it was also played on Trace Africa.
The same video received a Gold Award from the BEAT 100 A&R Music Charts, a hint on the global potential of Kambo music.
The group said they were still trying to perfect their act before any live performance but have done much for their video and audio productions. Having gone to the UK not as a music grouping meant that they live far apart making it difficult to rehearse and be in the studio together but with determination they have resolved to meet somewhere central to record and do online sessions when necessary. These sessions, they say, vary between long studio time and rehearsals stretching for a whole weekend.
As resourceful artistes, Kambo Boys have valuable advice to other artistes. “Keep working hard, also have a business mind, the music industry is getting complicated everyday and it needs some business wit.”
“As a group we try to set aside time for work and other endeavours, it takes a lot of commitment and dedication to strike such a balance though,” they added.
They say they will be announcing tour dates and concert dates in the next few months but currently they are working on their debut album which will drop later in the year. The album contains tracks like Ngirande, a song about lovers who get together in Diaspora and then things turn pear shaped.
“We recently shot a video for Sweet Larissa in Scotland and South Yorkshire. It is quite idyllic because South Yorkshire is a place for fine things, think about delicious melt in mouth Yorkshire pudding or vintage Yorkshire cheese. The script was to introduce a classic vintage theme to sungura, talk of sungura kings in Yorkshire castle and we have exactly managed to pull it off.
“We are trying to shoot videos that leave enduring memories so much that fans can watch this performance 20 years from now they will still feel like it’s fresh. It’s not easy though, a lot of money, commitment and sacrifice go into producing high quality crispy clear videos, but in the end it all fall in place. We have more videos coming this year and we promise some interesting concepts to upcoming videos,” said the group.
Who can argue against their propensity to soothe and enthuse when one hears the heralding guitar in Sweet Larissa.
Throughout the song, one is taken through a roller coaster of music tempo, with the guitar acoustically making a statement matching to lyrics. The sound is enchanting, it is a masterpiece, near to genius where one can easily follow the song arrangement from start to finish.
“We believe the video is just the pudding on the cake, it starts with a frame flow like you are watching some colourful skier in the Alps majestically descending down slope. In this case, however, it’s the camera shifting from a bird eye’s view to zoom in to quintessential marble walls of a grand castle. Coincidentally the video was shot on a sunny day during a week of fog and one of the dancers flew in from France, this dancer was chosen for his sleek dance moves,” said Kambo Boys.
One has to watch the video on youtube – Sweet Larissa (Official Video), to appreciate how Kambo Boys are taking sungura to another level.