on 28 January 2013
Staff Benda Belili Bouger Le Monde
Well I'm amazed that there are so few reviews (at the date of writing) of this fabulous album,
IMHO it is at least on a par with their acclaimed 2009 Tres Tres Fort.
Unlike the previous album which was recorded on the run in a number of locations, including the derelict Kinshasa Zoo where the band had found accommodation, Bouger Le Monde (Make The World Shake) is a studio analogue recording, with all the warmth and punch which that medium provides. In fact the production, courtesy of Vincent Kenis again, is superb with the percussion cracking around the speakers, the bass well defined, rhythmic and propulsive and the vocal harmonies textured, raw yet tight and powerful. There are eight vocalists among the ten members and lead vocals are shared, often with multiple leads in the one song.
The guitar players are now augmented by the lyrical soloist Amalphy Masamba, and Roger Landu again adds his electrified single string homemade satonge (a Congolese diddley bow?), to provide a unique upper register singing and stinging string of sound, a sweet mosquito perhaps, a kazoo bird, how would you describe it? Someone has described this as Hendrix on one string and indeed track 5, Kuluna/Gangs uses the same chord structure as All Along The Watchtower and the satonge soars in above the rhythm and vocals, rising in some sort of elemental climax then dives to a lower earthy sound - a detuned satonge perhaps, or maybe guitar - anyway, my favourite track, amazing. And this is followed by the eerie voodoo like Djambula, with its unearthly whistling, percussion racing like a heartbeat over the ominous chant, proclaiming an evil spreading everywhere, unscrupulous priests in shady business and politics.
Djambula is composed by Montana Kinunu and the group longevity is assured artistically because there are many composers and variations in styles, including South American influenced rhythms - cross fertilisation continues. My third favourite track is Souci/Worries with its wonderful plaintive harmonies, lead vocals, blend of instruments and changing tempos. Composed by Coco Ngambali the precis says that 'I'm going on a trip and I'm leaving you with worries' and 'each musician goes on to evoke a friend he left behind'.
The CD is softcase, the booklet is an attractive design and each song is given a precis in terms of a verse or two. I would have preferred the complete translation but it was surely impractical given the number of verses and spoken word in some songs. As with other African musics you don't need the lyrics to appreciate the songs. As with other roots music this is not studio manufactured confectionery, this is infectious, energetic, sounding spontaneous yet cleverly arranged. This is real. It deserves to be acclaimed, as do the musicians who made it.
on 19 November 2013
Staff Benda Bilili's first CD was an absolute delight and took me back to the late 1980s when so much great music was coming out of the Congo, much of it via Paris or Brussels. Much was made of the bands disabilities but that should not change the fact that these guys know how to play great music.
Sadly many picked up on the single stringed satonge, which I have nothing against but when it came to this second CD they stick it on every track which isn't needed in my view.
So I am knocking a star off for that as it spoilt my enjoyment of the CD and hence I have not listened to it as much and not got to know it so well as the first.