Mwalim - Deep Soul Chants & Hollers (2012)

Mwalim
Mwalim Deep Soul Chants & Hollers.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Mwalim takes full advantage of his status as an independent artist. If he had been affiliated with a label, he’d probably be pressured to make something akin to Sketches of a Neighborhood, the 2008 record he made as a part of the Bass Mint Brothers. If Mwalim had decided to make an album that embodied the same spirit of the excellent The Liberation Sessions, nobody would have blamed him.

The uniqueness of both of those projects stands as a major quality. Sketches of a Neighborhood was infused with the kind of soul/jazz and funk that drew a lot of people to fusion in the 1960s and 1970s. The Liberation Session was a concept album based on what hard-core music fans know black radio once was and can hopefully be again. That’s a place where quality music and diverse voices are appreciated rather than suppressed.

Mwalim takes full advantage of his status as an independent artist. If he had been affiliated with a label, he’d probably be pressured to make something akin to Sketches of a Neighborhood, the 2008 record he made as a part of the Bass Mint Brothers. If Mwalim had decided to make an album that embodied the same spirit of the excellent The Liberation Sessions, nobody would have blamed him.

The uniqueness of both of those projects stands as a major quality. Sketches of a Neighborhood was infused with the kind of soul/jazz and funk that drew a lot of people to fusion in the 1960s and 1970s. The Liberation Session was a concept album based on what hard-core music fans know black radio once was and can hopefully be again. That’s a place where quality music and diverse voices are appreciated rather than suppressed.

Deep Soul Chants & Hollers finds Mwalim putting the spotlight on house music. House music is a genre of dance music that emerged in the years after disco’s popularity waned. Ironically, house music was born in the same city where disco met its demise: Chicago. House music, with its pulsating and percussive beats and syncopated handclaps, shared some qualities with disco. However, house music – at least in those early days – often eschewed the lush arrangements that typified much of disco music, embracing a sparser but more energetic sound. It made and continues to make great dance music even as house music has evolved.

However, if you’re planning to sit and listen, house music has its shortcomings. The main drawback is the repetitiveness. The tunes on Deep Soul Chants & Hollers all fall into that one deep groove. There will never be a risk that the groove will turn into a rut if a dance floor is nearby because the beats are tight. Mwalim seeks to make the cuts more palatable for the listening audience through an effort to give them strong lyrical content. That effort is largely successful. “Never Been Here Before” pairs a deep bass groove with a spoken word piece about the importance on the power of ideas and thoughts and the risk inherent in ignoring an idea who’s time has come.

The percussive “Passion Released” reminds its listeners that the best way to ensure that party people have fun at the club is to throw all of their passion into dancing and having fun. Don’t expect to “find love in the club.” Have a good time, and if the night leads to something more, so be it.  “Passion Released” is the perfect dance song with just the right message.

How one feels about Deep Soul Chants & Hollers may well depend on whether the person is dancing or listening. A dancer will latch onto these house grooves and ride the musical wave from one pulsating track to the next. Others may find this a bit repetitive, but will nonetheless be impressed the lyrical quality and vision that Mwalim brings to the project. Moderately Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

Leave a comment!