Township Sessions

by: The Mothers

The origin of Township Sessions can be traced to the Philani Nutrition and Development Project, a community-based organization that provides child health and nutrition services to communities on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. The Philani Mothers choir recorded a cassette in 1998 with British producer Peter Raeburn of a cappella performances of Xhosa-language songs with health education messages. The cassette was distributed in South Africa, and then Peter Raeburn collaborated with other producers and musicians to remix the master tapes of these songs and create Township Sessions. The best tracks tend to be those with tasteful embellishments that don't completely overwhelm the choir music, such as "Milk," a pro-breast-feeding song produced by Raeburn and Nititn Sawhney. Other highlights include "Breathe Together," a Tom Kenyatta-produced track that includes percussive vocal effects by internationally renowned South African singer Miriam Makeba, and the Kid Loco-produced "Learning," which demonstrates that it is possible add funky beats to a choir without destroying the beauty of the original music. On the other hand, the Zero 7-produced "You" sounds a lot better when the choir is up front than during the schlocky instrumental break in the middle, and the slick dance flourishes of the Layo & Bushwacka!-produced "Home" render the song uninteresting. Despite a few missteps, however, most of this collaborative project is successful. ~ Todd Kristel

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