After a staggering 39-year hiatus, Zambia's enigmatic rock legends, WITCH (We Intend To Cause Havoc), have resurfaced with the anticipated Zango (Meeting Place). On par with their best work, the album is a mesmerising opus that seamlessly bridges 50 years of musical and post-colonial history into a summer-perfect collection of funkadelic social commentary.

With influences ranging from Hendrexian psychedelia to blues, garage, and contemporary hip-hop, WITCH deftly channels the spirit of the '70s Zamrock movement through pulsating rhythms. At the same time, bringing everything into the 21st Century with evocative songwriting and select collaborations.

Known as the Zamibian Beatles during their heyday, the last WITCH offering was 1984's Kuomoboka. Since then, not much has been heard from the group until a 2011 career retrospective and 2019 documentary. In the meantime, a slew of hindrances resulted in one of the longest gaps between releases in musical history. From the departure of vocalist Emmanuel Jagari Chanda to their home continent's AIDS epidemic and socio-economic strife, it seemed like WITCH would never offer anything new again. But here we are... and the results are the perfect hazy summertime offering. 

The production of Zango is nothing short of impeccable. The entire album captures WITCH's patented sound's raw energy and authenticity. It was recorded live to 8-track tape on analogue equipment in their original Lusaka, Zambia haunt, DB Studios. The result is an infectious groove, courtesy of the Dutch multi-instrumentalist and solo artist Jacco Gardner, drummer Nico Mauskoviç (Mauskoviç Dance Band), and guitarists Stefan Lilov (L'Eclair) and JJ Whitefield (Poets of Rhythm).

Opening with a flourish, By The Time You Realise enters the heart of Zamrock, drawing you in immediately. This vibrant track weaves traditional African rhythms and folklore with elements of heavy psychedelic rock, organ, and old-school synths into a Nile Rodgers-esque groove. Then, the lead single, Waile, offers a mishmash of genre-funk through overtly political lyricism, focused on the plight of migrants across the African continent. Other tracks of note are the reggae stylings of Streets of Lusaka and the ant-witchcraft lyricism of Stop the Rot.

The album also showcases the collaborative nature of WITCH's revival, with various artists lending their unique talents. Amanaz’ Keith Kabwe's contribution to Nshingilile adds a touch of authenticity. At the same time, Theresa Ng'ambi and Hanna Tembo take soulful centre stage on the disco funk of Unimvwesha Shuga and the sunny dub of Malango. But it is Avalanche of Love that is a true standout across collaborations and the album at-large. Featuring Zambian rapper Sampa the Great, her simmering rhymes sound at home in any generation, with the track firmly rooted with eyes on the dancefloor. 

Drawing from their storied history and experiences, WITCH has created an album that feels simultaneously timeless and contemporary. Zango serves as a meeting place where past and present converge and diverse perspectives coexist. As the closing track, Message from WITCH, rises from the ashes, one cannot help but marvel at the resurrection of this seminal band and the broader Zamrock genre. Its spoken word pontification harkens back to the band's first-ever offering, Introduction ("It unites beliefs/Conquers xenophobia/It laughs at hate speech/Ends sexism/It erases homophobia/Shatters antisemitism/Embraces every race"). 

Zango heralds a triumphant return to form, solidifying WITCH in the annals of rock history with their best, most playful album since 1975's Lazy Bones!!.This is a band that has defied the odds, reclaiming their rightful position as pioneers of a genre once relegated to obscurity. Zango is more than just a comeback; it is a resounding statement that the legacy of WITCH lives on, and their music will continue to captivate and inspire generations to come.