The Very Best, the duo of singer Esau Mwamwaya and producer Johan Hugo, have announced plans to follow up their last album, 2012’s MTMTMK, with an as-yet-untitled new one next spring. They recorded the new LP in Mali’s M’dala Chikowa Village, on the other side of Africa from Mwamwaya’s Malawi homeland. First single “Hear Me” is a beautifully percolating track with bass from Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio, and it comes with a music video that Hugo directed. He filmed the village where the duo recorded in time-lapse, showing clouds blowing across the desert and bug carcasses rotting. It’s a weirdly beautiful piece of work, and you can watch it and read statements from Hugo about the video and the song below.
About the song, Hugo writes:
We wrote this song in May 2014, only days before the Malawi general elections. It was also the 50th anniversary for 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 some of her voice. That’s the voice you can hear in the beginning of the song. Esau really wanted to write a song about the corruption, poverty, 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.
And about the video:
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 someones small 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 none would find it.