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Robin Denselow

From the Zomba Prison Project to the Tanzania Albinism Collective, Ian Brennan has specialised in promoting the music of the marginalised or dispossessed – groups with a strong, often tragic story who would never expect a recording contract. Rwanda’s battered minority the Batwa pygmies deserve both help and publicity, and their music is raw and compelling. The selection ranges from the soulful Emmanuel Hatungimana, backing himself with scraping effects from the one-stringed umuduli, to the mbira thumb piano and “found-metal, rattle distorters” of Jean Claude Nzabonimpa on the lament Cyabusiko (Night Streetwalker, Who Will Care for Your Children?), or 19-year-old rapper Rosine Nyiranshimiyimana, accompanied by buzzing effects from a battery-operated loop machine. But it’s unfortunate that the sleeve notes don’t explain in more detail the tragic history of the Batwa, including their expulsion from their forests and traditional lifestyle, and that there is no translation provided for their lyrics.

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From the Zomba Prison Project to the Tanzania Albinism Collective, Ian Brennan has specialised in promoting the music of the marginalised or dispossessed – groups with a strong, often tragic story who would never expect a recording contract. Rwanda’s battered minority the Batwa pygmies deserve both help and publicity, and their music is raw and compelling. The selection ranges from the soulful Emmanuel Hatungimana, backing himself with scraping effects from the one-stringed umuduli, to the mbira thumb piano and “found-metal, rattle distorters” of Jean Claude Nzabonimpa on the lament Cyabusiko (Night Streetwalker, Who Will Care for Your Children?), or 19-year-old rapper Rosine Nyiranshimiyimana, accompanied by buzzing effects from a battery-operated loop machine. But it’s unfortunate that the sleeve notes don’t explain in more detail the tragic history of the Batwa, including their expulsion from their forests and traditional lifestyle, and that there is no translation provided for their lyrics.

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