This post goes out to my friend Greg, who’s about to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo for work, as well as a number of other friends who’s professional pathways have led to them to this beautiful, but dark country of civil conflict.
Blur’s Damon Albarn traveled there this past year to mine, not the diamonds, but the unexplored, unique and infused elements of the Kinshasa music scene and what he produced with his London-music mates and local musicians is DRC Music – Kinshasa One and Two. The sound he gets from his travels and work with local musicians is described as bright and poppy (you can read the Pitchfork review here) and it is indeed true. This album is both jazzy, dancey and electric all at the same time – which means it is a little schizophrenic and doesn’t have a unifying sound. But that said, it does serve as a pretty amazing intro to the Kinshasa music scene, and it makes you feel like your amid all the Kinshasa hub-bub at the same time too. Exciting for the wanderlust-y mind!
All the proceeds from the sales of the album go to Oxfam, but if you want to get a taster first, here are some of my favourite tracks and check out more of their sounds here!
DRC Music – K-Town (Ft. N’Gotshima and Bebson)
DRC Music – Lourds (featuring Yende Bongongo of Okwess International)
On the same note, a fantastic new film also concentrates on the beats of Kinshasa. Benda Bilili! has just been released to critical accolades and concerns the culture of street music in the capital of the DRC. Although homeless, the polio- and poverty-stricken players of the Staff Benda Bilili band live for their music and French filmmakers Renaud Barret and Florent De la Tullaye capture the lives of these musicians over 5 years and like most docos about music, it ends with a concert. Check out their their tunes and trailer!…and check out the band’s website to see if they’re coming to a European city near you soon!
Staff Benda Bilili – Polio