In the nearly two decades since Congo-born and Belgium-raised Marie Daulne founded Zap Mama, her vision of one-world music has evolved from esoteric extreme to exotic mainstream.
Her sixth album, Supermoon, is the latest full-band Zap Mama recording to distance itself from her all-female, a capella debut, Adventures in Afropea I. The latter fired up the Billboard World Music charts in 1993 with its curious multicultural mash of vocal traditions from such far-flung locales as Zaire, France, and Syria. While Supermoon continues to draw heavily from global music, including the rich polyphony of the Central African Pygmies, its Euro-dance production mostly leans on big syncopated beats, posh R&B chic, and virtuosic melodies, which really sets Zap Mama apart from kindred artists like Erykah Badu and Les Nubians.
Daulne's tonal color and rhythmic power are extraordinary. On tunes like "Princess Kesia" and "Toma Taboo," the singer's multi-tracked harmonies rise toward the heavens. Even more mundane, groove-centric titles like the bounce-friendly "Hey Brotha" (featuring Michael Franti) and the jazz-lite "Go Boy" transcend clichés simply because Daulne is a vocalist like no other: elegant, unusual, and accessible.