Getting ready for 2015 part 1: The Very Best

I’ve covered the fantastic The Very Best on 17 Seconds before. In 2009, their debut Warm Heart Of Africa and in 2012 their second album MTMTMK both earned ****1/2 on this very blog.

The band – who are Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya and Swedish producer Johan Hugo – are set to return in Spring next year with their as-yet-untitled third album. The first track to be released is the chilled and hypnotic ‘Hear Me,’ the video for which was released yesterday and you can stream at the top of the page.

Whilst I am usually loath to simply copy and paste an entire press release – in this case, I believed it to be worth it.

“Of the track, Johan Hugo says: “We wrote this song in May 2014, just days before the Malawi general elections. It was also the 50th anniversary of Malawi independence from colonial rule. One day we where sitting outside the house listening to the radio and Joyce Banda (the president that day) was talking about something to do with the election and progress, or lack of progress for Malawi as a nation. We put an iPhone next to the radio and recorded her voice. Thats the voice you can hear at the beginning of the song. Esau really wanted to write a song about the corruption, poverty and struggle of Malawi, and how frustrated he was about the fact that very little has changed since independence. We recorded the whole song that day, and the next day we asked the local church choir to come in and record some choir vocals for it. As with most vocals and instrumentation on this record, we recorded them outdoors, on the beach, singing the bridge and last chorus with Esau. Back in London a month later Chris Baio from Vampire Weekend came in and played bass on the song.”

Of the video he adds: “The Hear Me video was shot in M’dala Chikowa village in south Malawi, on Lake Malawi. M’dala Chikowa was also the location for the writing and recording of the album. Between writing songs and recording we would climb the mountains above the lake and set the camera up to take time lapses. Any time we wanted a break we would bring the camera on a tripod to the shop or to someone’s house and always leave it taking time lapses. We would sit for hours in the dark while the camera clicked away, working on a song, tweaking melodies or words. Mosquitos everywhere. Sometimes we would leave the camera running and trek back to the house, hoping no one would find it.”

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