Mbongwana Star: From Kinshasa (World Circuit)

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Mbongwana Star: Suzanna
Mbongwana Star: From Kinshasa (World Circuit)

Just as Memphis, Liverpool, Jamaica, Iceland and Sweden were not in the sightlines of pop music before great artists emerged from there, it's a fair bet 10 years ago no one would have put money on Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Then the Congotronics collections introduced us to the likes of Konono No1, Kisanzi Congo and others working with cheap electronic equipment and battered instruments to deliver deep, danceable and infectious Afro-rock.

Then Staff Benda Bilili (a one-string guitar, guys in wheelchairs) also sprang out of the city with vibrant pop-cum-world music.

This debut by Mbongwana Star – a seven piece founded by former members of Staff Benda Bilili – will catch many even further off-guard for its hip-hop influenced blend of Congolese rumba and bargain bin, electronic special effects.

Produced by Paris-based Liam Farrell (aka Dr L), this is an off-kilter, mashed-up freak-out of rumba'n'roll, UK-styled post-punk basslines, unusual vocals and chipping guitar-funk beats.

From the tumbling opener From Kinshasa To The Moon through the other nine unpredictable songs which follow (close to Byrne/Eno's Bush of Ghosts-meets-PiL if you need a half-wrong/right reference), you'll not find a more odd or good-natured album to baffle friends and yourself.

Kinshasa, huh? Who knew?

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