Ilembe - Honoring Shaka Zulu


Even though the music on Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s Ilembe – Honoring Shaka Zulu is completely a cappella, you’ll never miss the lack of accompanying instruments. The South African ensemble fills each song to the brim, sometimes with voice and just as often with judiciously placed silence. Less boisterous than some of the group’s other albums, and more emotionally direct than its collaborations with western musicians, Ilembe is exactly as involving as you choose it to be. Give them slight notice, and these repetitive songs seem to provide little more than a lovely background. But close listening reveals ample complexity, from the subtly shifting chanted sections of the English-language hymn "This is the Way We Do" to the harmonic richness of the choral singing, or the way Joseph Shabalala's solo parts on "Vela Nsizwa" and other tracks sometimes feels like a lead vocal and sometimes like ornamentation. The repetitive arrangements have an appealing organic quality, like the musical equivalent of waves washing on the beach. This adds a meditative almost hypnotic quality to the songs. While "Prince of Peace" and a couple of other tracks are obviously religious in nature, even the political commentary of "Let's Do It" has beautifully modulated spiritual energy.-- Bob Tarte

For over 1,000 world music CD reviews by Bob Tarte, visit and click on 'Music Reviews.'

More reviews tagged #World

  • reviewed 06/2004

    X Amounts of Niceness: NYC Sessions 1993-2004

  • reviewed 06/2005

    Femi Kuti
    Live at the Shrine

  • reviewed 03/2008

    In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2

  • reviewed 08/2007

    Light Your Light

  • reviewed 05/2007


  • reviewed 08/2005

    Live - Radical Mestizo

Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

The opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the individual volunteers that submitted the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of WYCE or GRCMC; nor its staff, donors, or affiliates.