Radio free Zimbabwe from Sydney-based band Okapi Guitars, mixes Zimbabwe mbira and hosho with guitar styles from all over Africa.
The CD follows a year of increased recognition for the band: in 2003 their afro-skiffle version of Lou Reed's classic "Vicious" was included on the acclaimed tribute CD After Hours (www.wampus.com/lou.html), and a song from their 2002 CD Blue Kigara, was distributed by Creative Commons. The band also released a compilation of its latin songs, Los Grandes Exitos del Conjunto Okapi.
Radio free Zimbabwe is an album of new songs, with interlocking layers of rich guitars, and conscious lyrics, born from shock and awe at the rise of criminal hypocrites to power in the west.
Using guitar sounds that range from the picked patterns of afrobeat to the sweep of vintage tremolo, and production techniques borrowed from jazz and techno, the band sing songs about SIEVX, Iraq and the ongoing disaster of Mugabe's Zimbabwe. Where else will you hear John Howard outed for what he really is ("My client")? Or a hymn of praise to the mighty termite?
"This CD is joyous melodically and rhythmically, with fine arrangements that make interesting use of the stereo field. The CD is also notable for being a poke in the eye for those guys who lead us. John Howard cops a deserved satire for the Iraq situation and for his (our) governments policy of imprisoning children contrary to their human rights. Musically and stylistically, Okapi Guitars show their heritage is right in line with recordings of bands from East Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Zaire and Guinea, though based in Sydney. Five stars, buy it, go and see the band. And, yes, John Howard, we know what you're up to."