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Masanka Sankayi and Kasai All-Stars : Wa Muluendu (feat. Mutumilayi)

Masanka Sankayi and Kasai All-Stars : Wa Muluendu (feat. Mutumilayi)

Label:Crammed Discs
Release Date:2006

By Lee Gardner | Posted 3/15/2006

Aging group no one’s ever heard of from an exotic African nation + homemade instruments + homemade amplification + a musical fusion of tribal rhythms and urban pulse + piles of distortion = shoo-in hipster-bait circa 2005. Indeed, last year small apartments across tout le indie monde reverberated to the boisterous, fuzzy trance dances of Congolese band Konono No. 1, as captured on Congotronics (Crammed Discs). It turns out, however, that Konono No. 1 isn’t quite the singular musical curiosity new fans in the developed world assumed. Hence Congotronics 2, which features a live track from Konono No. 1, but mostly highlights seven other contemporary Kinshasa-area acts that use some variation of Konono’s amplified-thumb-pianos-meet-raucous-party-throb steez.

More is more here. As great and novel as Congotronics was, Konono’s singular approach to its barely melodic African texture jams wore on some listeners. Such listeners are likely to find more variety—and especially more melody—among the various artists behind 2. If you wanna dip your toe and test these grooves, there’s no better place to start than opening track “Wa Muluendu,” a collaboration between Masanka Sankayi and Kasai All-Stars. Over a downright gully push-and-pull rhythm beaten out on the genre’s trademark scrap-metal instruments, the two groups’ various vocalists swap hooks. As the call-and-response hollers and chants thicken, they hook in with the tricky meters roiling and stomping beneath them. You can’t nod your head to this, but it’s all but impossible not to grind your hips and swivel that neck. And just when it seems it can’t get any more out of hand, the track stops dead at four minutes flat, begging for a rewind.

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