Album: Kasai Allstars, In the 7th Moon, the Chief Turned Into a Swimming Fish and Ate the Head of his Enemy by Magic (Crammed Discs)

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The Independent Culture

In the Kasai region of the Congo, malevolent Christian evangelists are reportedly still seeking to extinguish the indigenous musical culture, with the supposedly "satanic" native trance ceremonies banned.

Hence the rearguard action by Kasai Allstars, a 25-strong collective of musicians and dancers, whose explosive performances are a resolute re-affirmation of cultural identity – and, it must be said, more fun than Sunday school. These nine pieces are a startling blend of the primitive and avant-garde.

On tracks like "Quick As White" and "Kafuulu Balu", the tones of the Allstars' likembe thumb-pianos, log marimbas, buzzing tam-tams and twinkly soukous electric guitar lines develop the character of a James Brown funk groove played on Harry Partch's bizarre percussive battery; elsewhere, the vocal chants of "Mukuba" create a mesmeric trance effect, while music rarely gets as sensuous as the undulations of "Mbua-A-Matumba".

Pick of the album:'Quick as White', 'Kafuulu Balu', 'Mbua-A-Matumba'

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