Friday, August 22, 2008

Album Review: Kasai Allstars-Congotronics 3

"In the 7th Moon, the Chief Turned Into a Swimming Fish and Ate the Head of his Enemy by Magic," the debut full-length album from Kasai All-Stars, is an unabashedly raw, aggressive explosion of sound, soul and color. Out July 15, 2008 on Crammed Discs Records as the third edition of the Congotronics series, its deep trances and winding rhythms tap into the primal essence of why music is a universal language.

The Kasai Allstars is a collective of twenty-five musicians from six bands and five tribes – the Luba, Sonye, Lulua, Tetela and Luntu – all of whom originally come from the Kasai region in the center of the Congo. Their music is drawn directly from ritual festive music played before the arrival of European colonizers and missionaries who found the highly erotic dances and pagan trance ceremonies satanic and unholy. The traditional musical practices were eventually banned pushing them to the brink of extinction. Even the actual traditional instruments all but disappeared.

Today the Kasai Allstars are reviving the practices once shunned by their colonial oppressors by fusing several different styles and cultures into a new "Allstar" sound. Using acoustic instruments with electric guitars, distortion-laden thumb pianos (with DIY amplification) and soulful vocals, they have a sound unlike any other. Their ability to layer repetitive patterns and progressions builds a rich texture to create a powerfully rich composition. The album is almost underproduced, emphasizing the raw, uninhibited nature of the music. After appearing on Congotronics 2, the Kasai Allstars are making a very strong first impression on the international music scene with their first full-length release.

Kasai Allstars

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