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I’m holding a record cover from the 1958s. Is it Tina Turner sporting a necklace of bleached animal bones, wooden masked, high on Umbungo and facing off to the camera or Ramsey Lewis minus his steel rimmed specs, with a tickle stick? MGANGA! The Medicine Man is coming at us, those who have sinned are doomed to be chained as slaves of MTUMWA. Voices on mass, mournful, wailing through the stillness of the jungle night, drums in the distance join the unsettling atmosphere of the voodoo rite, the forbidden mystery of the dark continent is adrift in the swollen abundance of the jungle. Wild beasts stalk around the primitive excess of the ritual, the savage spear dance with MGANGA his eyes sunk back in to his skull central to the throng.
The music is African, the composer a Japanese American musicologist, Tak Shindo. Developing his skills as a composer who studied Asian music to create film scores in Hollywood for such films as Sayonara and Stopover Tokyo. Tak Shindo was successful as a composer of pop exotica along with the likes of Martin Denny and Les Baxter, his lps melding western cowboy tunes with arrangements played on traditional oriental instruments like the koto (thirteen string zither), samisen (three string lute), bamboo flutes and temple gongs. His most well known lp though is MGANGA, a lush and inventive piece of African influenced exotica. Putting aside the delicate chimes and bamboo flutes of the music of his musical heritage, Tak employs primal Afro-Cuban rhythms and animal sounds to conjure up a fake aural African fantasy ripe for the jet set age of American.