Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Montparnasse Musique: Archeology [RealWorld, 2022]
The two kingpins of this remarkable project identify African even though they grew up 6000 miles apart: Franco-Algerian DJ Bern Bella, who didn't even visit the mother country till he was out of his teens, and Johannesburg "township electro house" producer Aero Manyelo, who was born in the northern reaches of South Africa before heading south to Jo'burg with a family led by a father who was a serious jazz fan. But though there's thump aplenty in the beats the two concoct for a band named for the artiest of Parisian neighborhoods, it's striking how Congolese their groove remains. True, it's less lissome than highlife much less soukous and doesn't aspire to such ease. But it's very much polyrhythmic while rocking to beat the band. When you first play it you may think you've heard lots of music like it, but you haven't. It's not going to displace Victor Uwaifo much less Kanda Bongo Man much less Luambo Franco. But it's ready and willing to stand alongside it. A-