Consumer Guide Album
Mbongwana Star: From Kinshasa [World Circuit, 2015]
The most original and syncretic new band yet to reach us from 21st-century Africa--unless I just mean album, as French-Irish drummer-bassist-producer Liam Farrell layers on a kitchen sink of distortions every bit as organic as the Congotronics that add novelty/authenticity to the focus track "Malukayi." There's none of soukous's hard-won elegance here--the flowing grooves, the masterful voices, the horns. Instead the choppy rhythms recall Staff Benda Bilili, whose Theo Nzonza and Coco Ngambala provide tenor and baritone, with Ngamabla the odds-on creator of two killer change-of-pace ballads whatever the conspicuously absent copyright notices say. This is African music as an object of Euro-American commerce with no false aura of postcolonial purity. I hope I get the chance to see it take human form.