Following Democratic Republic of Congo group Konono No. 1’s success and critical acclaim for its follow-up compilation, Congotronics 2, Belgian label Crammed again returns to Kinshasa, DRC for the series’ next release.
The latest Afro-electric concoction comes from Kasai Allstars, whose debut, In the 7th Moon, The Chief Turned Into a Swimming Fish and Ate the Head of His Enemy By Magic, drops September 23. Like their predecessors, Kasai Allstars combine traditional Central-African music with amplified instruments and wildly inventive percussion.
The Kasai Allstars includes some 25 musicians from the Kasai region, but who originated from five different ethnic groups: the Luba, the Songye, the Lulua, the Tetela, and the Luntu. Although these groups have had conflicts in the past and each has a different language and culture, the band has been able to bridge differences and adapt different music traditions into one amazing super-group.
Like Konono, rattling metal and wood-percussion instruments create a backdrop for electric thumb piano, and chiming guitars, with single and multi-part vocals flowing through each mesmerizing song (see video). They draw their arrangements from festive and ritual music that was played in the bush before being banned by the Europeans. Sadly, many of the traditional instruments used to play Congo music have been looted or have disappeared.
As Kasai Allstars spokesman Mi-Amor points out, "Nowadays, it is far easier to find a variety of slit drums, thumb pianos, and marimbas in the museums of the northern hemisphere than in the Congolese cities or countryside."
In the 7th Moon...
01 Quick as White
03 Kafuulu Balu
04 Beyond the 7th Moon
06 Mpombo Yetu
07 Tshitua Fuila Mbuloba
09 Drowning Goat (Mbuji-Mayi)