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

Balkan Beat Box: Give (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

Balkan Beat Box: Give (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

The cover here -- megaphone as gun/gun as megaphone --gives you a clue to the BBB out of New York who mash up dance culture, dub, Balkan styles and much more into often bruising techno-rock . . .... > Read more

Hanitra: Lasa, Songs From Madagascar (ARC Music)

Hanitra: Lasa, Songs From Madagascar (ARC Music)

Let's just go out a very thin branch now and say this: If Hanitra Ranaivo sang in English she might just be one of those Next Big Thing artists at the intersection of folk, pop and world music.... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Richard Walters: The Animal (Kartel)

Richard Walters: The Animal (Kartel)

Many singer-songwriters are prepared to essay their fragility in life and love, but few offer the sense they have some deep emotional strength to leaven the mix and lift their songs out of... > Read more

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Quail State aka Jono Aidney

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Quail State aka Jono Aidney

Jono Aidney who performs as Quail State has been through illness and itinerancy, but now back in his hometown of Auckland he has posted his debut album, Volcano Hazards of Auckland, at bandcamp... > Read more