BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Staff Benda Bilili: Tres Tres Fort (Crammed/Southbound)

 |   |  <1 min read

Staff Benda Bilili: Je t'aime
BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Staff Benda Bilili: Tres Tres Fort (Crammed/Southbound)

Elsewhere has previously noted the surprising music which comes out of Kinshasa in the Congo, notably the Congotronics albums. But where that music hit a strange place somewhere around cheap electronic instruments alongside traditional thumb piano, odd chants and a production job that cost all of $2.50, this album is something very different again.

The core of the band in question here are four paraplegic street musicians who get around on banged-together wheelchairs and live in and around the zoo. And in their band they have an extraordinary 17-year old who plays a one-stringed instrument he made himself using a tin can.

Okay, that the story that gets you in, but what keeps you is the mesmerising music which steps between juju music with its gorgeously melodic, itching'n'scratching guitars, the lightly funky bass, the rolling riddums which refer to reggae in a couple of places, the solos and punctuations from that strange tin can thing, the busy percussion . . . .

Yes, there is an exoticism which is an attraction, and of course your heart goes out to these musicians -- but if you didn't know the background you'd still be smitten by these 11 songs, whether it be the supple funk or the Fifties styled ballad Sala Keba which sounds like Frankie Avalon beamed in from a very strange place in an alternate universe and filtered through the heart of Kinshasa soul-pop.

And the album comes with four video tracks which, when you see them, will explain why they were such a YouTube hit. 

Unexpected and utterly engrossing music. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

ELSEWHERE'S FAMOUS WOMAD QUESTIONNAIRE: Nicky Bomba of the Melbourne Ska Orcheatra (Aust)

ELSEWHERE'S FAMOUS WOMAD QUESTIONNAIRE: Nicky Bomba of the Melbourne Ska Orcheatra (Aust)

The goodtime sound of ska got a whole lot stranger when the Melbourne Ska Orchestra formed after a one-off event in 2003. The idea was to get a world-record number of horn players together in St... > Read more

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars:Rise and Shine (Cumbancha/Ode)

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars:Rise and Shine (Cumbancha/Ode)

These guys certainly have a great back-story: in six years they went from languishing in a refugee camp, through being the subject of a doco (see clip below) to Oprah. They appeared on the Blood... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

David Sylvian: Gone to Earth (1986)

David Sylvian: Gone to Earth (1986)

You never know quite how people are going to turn out: they find bodies under the floorboards in the house of that polite boy next door, the rebel girl in school becomes a nun, and David Sylvian .... > Read more

TOUGHER THAN TOUGH: The 1994 box set of Jamaican music considered

TOUGHER THAN TOUGH: The 1994 box set of Jamaican music considered

One of the most exciting things about popular music is that you can never anticipate where the next wave will come from. Could you have predicted Chicago in Forties, Memphis in the Fifties,... > Read more