Unconvincing in Quality. The Very Best, MTMTMK.

When Europop engineers Radioclit first teamed up with Malawi's joyously vibrant songster Esau Mwamwaya to endow all open of ear and mind with their Warm Heart Of Africa LP in '09, its thirteen tracks translated to an outstandingly harmonious cross-cultural mêlée with each song jocularly, vivaciously jostling with those surrounding it. Mwamwaya's role was both vocal and concentratedly focal, with only the odd guest spot from ex-Dirty Projector Ezra Koenig and our very own conventional genre-eschewing mogul M.I.A. shading the Malawian's luminous ubiquity. MTMTMK, in respects divers, is therefore a rather contradictory effort in both tactic and conclusion.

For where Warm Heart Of Africa pulsed to a lightly pop-, or Euro-tinged Africana, MTMTMK features collaborators of almost exclusively uni-continental descent and even with regard to a catalogue that at the minute is anything but comprehensive, this is The Very Best at anything but their most preeminent. Cluttered with arguably too many contributors (Mwamwaya's homely chants and croons are deplorably thinned as a direct consequence) Radioclit are meanwhile at fault for its genre misconstruction. For MTMTMK is a ferocious clash of stylistic contradiction: even when they've not only Amadou & Mariam but also the inimitable Baaba Maal at their disposal the world music heavyweights are led disastrously astray; sold down an ambling river of messy distortions and inessential guitar superfluity. Sprawled out over just shy of four minutes, Bantu as such never finds any discernible sense of flow whatsoever and seems an inexcusable waste.

We Ok, on the other hand, closes the LP but may as well have been lopped off and airdropped in on K'NAAN's next record: "I met this girl before/ It wasn't long ago/ She was so beautiful/ She look like a model", he avows in stilted syllables over what sounds like an umpteenth redux of Wavin' Flag. It's a bad track, granted, and almost sounds as though will.i.am may well be pulling strings and rusty robot moves behind its shiny, shiny exterior somewhere. Yet there's something irksome and unapologetically disappointing in the Somalian resorting to such hackneyed contrivance: here we have an artist who once had something illuminating and in many ways edifying to impart (for which see his The Dusty Foot Philosopher teachings) and here we find him whooping up the concept of dancing 'til closing time to this wearying Eurotrash lollop.

Returning to the record in question, Lewisham's MNEK crops up for some tedious Auto-Tunage on Rumbae (bump 'n' grind rhetoric of "rumba rhythm" and "I’m gonna hoop you right from your head to your toes" again predominates) whilst self-professed 'underground music dealer' Mo Laudi pitches in on the largely tuneless and irrevocably trashy Moto. In recurrence however, Laudi achieves redemption as Come Alive provides one of few occurrences where this marriage of creativities and civilisations finds peace: its figurative first dance a sandy Kalahari cry offset by the clicking of crickets, a mellow state of mellifluousness is soon impressionistically painted atop its affecting plainsong as though the brush were in the hands of Anthony Gonzalez. It even retains every drop of integrity once a brutish house pound redolent of Guetta's first single/ last single/ everything emerges. Mghetto too, a collab with Russian electro menace Xuman, successfully aligns the frivolities and worldlinesses of each of its essentially disparate components.

Kondaine, featuring Seye Adelekan, is a mildly embarrassing if enviably carefree anthem that, with its hoots of "zoom zoom" or phonetically alike, sounds as though the soundtrack to a new mid-range automobile or indeed any old FIFA comp. Thus it's when Mwamwaya returns to his rightful place that MTMTMK extends out beyond monotony: I Wanna Go Away recalls Battles were the NYC outfit to relocate to horizontal savannah and fill the thing with oozy ice cream textures; Rudeboy proves a badass romp to effortlessly better Oliver Twist; Yoshua Alikuti a Milton Keynes Bowl-filling undulation of pop effervescence. Although as with most scents it seems as though that which sits just beneath their collective snout is that which The Very Best have here failed to sniff out and in allowing their co-operative proclivities to diffuse quite so far and wide, the overall effect is too diluted.