Baloji: Kinshasa Succursale (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

Baloji: Congo Eza Ya Biso
Baloji: Kinshasa Succursale (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

Given how many producers, remixers and musicians are flocking to Kinshasa in search of Congolese musicians, it seems the former Belgian Congo is the new Jamaica.

No bad thing, some of the music coming out of there (as heard on the Congotronics and Konono No 1 albums, and the Tradi-Mods Vs Rockers sound clash) is quite something. And something different.

Then there is the home-coming traffic, like expat singer Baloji (whose name means sorcerer in Swahili). 

Although born in the Congo in '78, Baloji grew up in Belgium from age four and in his teens became part of the Starflam Collective who were big in Belgium.

Ironically, he quit the group in '04 and abandoned music until he won a poetry competition and a letter from his mother -- whom he hadn't seen in almost 20 years -- nudged him back into music.

In more recent years has made regular trips to his homeland, and he's back on the ground for this diverse, often viscerally exciting album where he teams up with Konono No. 1 (the Delta blues-meets-Francophone rap on Karibu Ya Bintou) and lets things roll out with three remixes.

There a ragged but right feel here where songs like the vibrant Congo Eza Ya Biso (with the joyous singing and ululations of La Choral de la Grace) and the relentlessly chipping guitar on A l'heure d'ete – Saison Seche (with Larousse Marciano) sound like they were thrown down fast to capture the urgency of the moment.

The brief and percussive Genese 89 pulls the pace back a little (as does the soulful treatment of Marvin Gaye's I'm Going Home with Detroit's Amp Fiddler singing the title hook), but the punchy Tout ceci ne vous rendra pas le Congo hits a midground between classic Manu Dibango and electrifying fusion.

Part angry hip-hop and part socio-political Kinshasa rock, this one deserves serious attention although for most it will fall – as did France's MC Solaar and Assassin – at the first hurdle. It is almost exclusively in French.

But listeners to world music are used to not understanding many lyrics so . . .

Check it out, if you fink you is 'ard enuff.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section

The Lijadu Sisters: Afro-Beat Soul Sisters (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

The Lijadu Sisters: Afro-Beat Soul Sisters (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

The story of the twins Taiwo and Kehinde Lijadu out of Nigeria could have come from a very familiar template with that bell curve of a career: The excitement of being young and in hot bands (among... > Read more

Various Artists: Rangarang; Pre-revolutionary Iranian Pop (Vampi Soul/Southbound)

Various Artists: Rangarang; Pre-revolutionary Iranian Pop (Vampi Soul/Southbound)

In Elvis Presley's trophy room at Graceland in Memphis -- more a trophy annex, with gold discs, costumes, awards, police badges and posters -- there is, framed on the wall, a dramatic headline from... > Read more

New Elsewhere

NICK CAVE ENCOUNTERED (2014): The man, the myth and the movie

NICK CAVE ENCOUNTERED (2014): The man, the myth and the movie

The backstage room at Auckland's SkyTower Theatre where Nick Cave waits is tiny, but doubtless he's seen much worse. He's arrived with no fanfare, greets my wife Megan and me warmly in the... > Read more

THE BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2014: THE EDITOR'S CHOICES

THE BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2014: THE EDITOR'S CHOICES

At a very rough guess Elsewhere probably reviewed or wrote about more than 200 albums in the past year . . . and we certainly didn't get to many excellent ones simply by constraints of time.... > Read more