Dorothee Munyaneza – Dorothee Munyaneza – Luminary Records (CD + DVD-A)

by | Nov 12, 2010 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Dorothee Munyaneza – Dorothee Munyaneza – Luminary Records CD + DVD-Audio 5.1 LUM 001 (with DD 5.1, DTS 96/24, PCM Stereo & MP3 files +artwork), 57:39, CD: 57:39. ***** []:

(Dorothee Munyaneza – vocals, djembe, handclaps; Richard Marcangelo – drums, percussion; Tim Stone – acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Martin Russell – keyboards, bass, guitar, berimbau; Kaz Kasozi – bass; Andrew Cronshaw – zither, maroyantele, ba-wu, jawharp; Al Stewart – soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone; Nasher – guitar; Faith Tatou – vocals; Philip Achille – chromatic harmonica; Simon Fielder – didgeridoo; Martin O’Neill – bodhran; Michael O’Connor – bass sample; Antonia Russell – vocals)

Dorothee Munyaneza was twelve years old during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. This cycle of social de-evolution would remain with her. A gifted singer, Munyaneza gained acclaim for her work on the soundtrack of the Oscar nominated Hotel Rwanda in 2004. Her next critical success came as a guest vocalist with Afro-Celt Sound System on the Volume 5-Anatomic project. Living in Paris now, she has appeared in the touring production of Francois Verret’s performance-drama, Ice. Continuing to tour in projects emphasizing her inherent artistic and dramatic talents as a singer, percussionist, dancer and actress, the global ascendancy of a promising career is underway. Munyaneza continues her passion for social justice and impacting the narrative of world culture.

The self-titled solo project is a moving collection of African based melodies and percussion. Co-written with Grammy-nominated producer and musician extraordinaire, Martin Russell, fourteen original compositions are rendered by an assortment of electronic and acoustic instruments. Perhaps the finest instrument is the voice of Dorothee Munyaneza. Possessed of a strong diverse style of singing, she is capable of emoting strength and pathos with equal dexterity. The song arrangements are a fitting illustration of her artistic vision. Recorded in her native language, the pieces reflect personal and universal themes. On songs such as “Iminsi” (Reconciliation time), a simple construct of a vocal refrain and chant is framed by percussion, keyboards and jawharp. The hopelessness of AIDS is rendered with delicate lyricism in “Njyenyine” (Alone), as the utilization of soprano sax and bass clarinet underline a tone of despair. Munyaneza’s overdubbed vocals provide rich sonic texture.

Optimism pervades  the messages of “Godeliva” (For my aunt), and “Iteka” (Always and forever). The songs have a unique ebullience as the coalescence of percussion, rootsy instrumentation and passionate vocals is catching. The connection with African culture is told with dramatic accents on “Akaririmbo” (A song for my child). A spirited vocal chorus is offered in counterpoint to a pulsating drum beat. The plight of the Rwandan culture is explored on several tracks. “Inzozi” (I must be dreaming), “Urugendo” (Moving on) and “Urugamba” (The fight goes on) feel like heartfelt communications to her countrymen about the inexorable struggles for freedom and healing. A final number, “Igiche” (Where were you?), is a declaration of outrage. The narrative of brutality is fashioned by sparing auditory themes and the inimitable resonance of a singer’s unyielding consciousness.

Disc 1 is a DVD, recorded in DVD-Audio plus DD 5.1 Surround (for those who lack the higher-res DVD-A playback), 96K/24-bit DTS 5.1, and PCM stereo. There is also a DVD-ROM folder on the disc with each song as a 320kbps MP3 audio file, along with artwork derived from the screen images on the DVD-A. The DVD-A also provides a bonus track and credits which run over a remix of the opening song. This is really a packed double-disc!

The tone and overall resonance of the instrumentation is flawless. The individual delicacy of the acoustics is presented with a pristine clarity. The textured mixes of layered vocals and lush keyboards are precise without impinging on the subtlety of the understated collage of string, reed and percussion. The titles on the DVD are displayed on a 16:9 screen but without video images.  Disc 2 is recorded as a standard CD, and conveys the musicality of the album with less technological augmentation. Dorothee Munyaneza defines the essence of World Music and its global imperative.
TrackList (both DVD+ CD):
Iminsi; Njyenyine; Nyicara; Godeliva; Iteka; Akaririmbo; Ingoma; Agaciro; Inzozi; Urugendo; One Minute; Urugamba; Icyatumye; Igihe

—  Robbie Gerson

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