Baloji: Kinshasa Succursale (Crammed Discs/Southbound)

 |   |  1 min read

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   World Music articles index

Seckou Keita: 22 Strings (MWLDAN/Ode)

Seckou Keita: 22 Strings (MWLDAN/Ode)

The title of this exceptional album by the gifted kora player Seckou Keita refers to the fact that the 21-string kora originally had one extra string  . . . but that was removed centuries ago... > Read more

Karim Baggili with Le Trio Joubran: Kali City (homerecords)

Karim Baggili with Le Trio Joubran: Kali City (homerecords)

This is very much a game of two halves for the self-taught guitarist Karim Baggili who is Belgian-born and of Jordanian background. And ironically it is the material with the superb... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Elephant9 with Reine Fiske: Psychedelic Backfire II (Rune Grammofon/Southbound)

Elephant9 with Reine Fiske: Psychedelic Backfire II (Rune Grammofon/Southbound)

With last year's Greatest Show on Earth by the Norwegian power-jazz trio Elephant9, we warned they were not for the faint of heart. They were muscular, offered hard-edge funk with prog-rock... > Read more

Lucio's trenette al pesto (trenette with pesto sauce)

Lucio's trenette al pesto (trenette with pesto sauce)

What constitutes a great restaurant? Not just superb food . . . but the atmosphere, surely? Lucio's Italian in Sydney (see their website here) has won me every time on both counts (and... > Read more