‘We Intend to Cause Havoc’ Review: Zambia Rock, Rediscovered

“Zamrock” is the tag applied to the music of several rock bands from Zambia dating from the early 1970s into the ’80s. Once known as Northern Rhodesia, the country in southern Africa achieved its independence in 1964. Zambian rockers applied British Invasion psychedelic accents to infectious rhythms derived from both their own continent’s musical traditions and James Brown.

A new documentary directed by Gio Arlotta, “We Intend to Cause Havoc,” takes its title from the acronym of WITCH, a once-popular Zambian combo. Arlotta, who is from Italy, came upon the band’s music by happenstance, then conducted a pilgrimage to find its makers. In the footage here, he travels with a couple of European musicians, Jacco Gardner and Nic Mauskovic, who visit archives and studios and hook up with the only surviving member of the original group, the charismatic singer and songwriter Emmanuel Chanda, whose stage name was Jagari (after, yes, Mick Jagger).

Chanda is now a fervent Christian who works at a private gemstone mine, hoping to earn not necessarily riches but sustenance for his family. The music business in the United States was never a picnic for artists, but in Zambia “distribution” was practically synonymous with getting ripped off by pirates. Chanda is not bitter; nor is the guitarist Victor Kasoma, once of the band The Oscillators. Both men are eager to jam with the enthusiastic and slightly callow visiting Europeans.

The movie picks up when the narration shifts from Arlotta’s to tag-team Chanda and the knowledgeable Eothen Alapatt, the head of a label that reissues Zamrock. The music itself is exciting enough that it washes out some of the unpleasant taste of the film’s early “white people discovering stuff” tone. And Chanda himself is incredibly winning, especially when he takes the stage.

We Intend to Cause Havoc
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 28 minutes. Rent or buy on Apple TV and Altavod.

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