The ship roars as you descend to the planetary surface. Years of travel, and it’s time to experience the fruits of your labor. The rumbling halts, and all is quiet. After a few moments, you open the vessel’s hatch, test the atmosphere, and exit the compartment you’ve called home for so long. Grassy plains are in all directions, and you see a plume of smoke in the distance. You walk a long while before approaching a village, and an apparent celebration . . .
It’s a beautiful thing when seemingly disparate influences of creativity come together to craft something more astounding and incredible in the sum than in the separate pieces. From Kinshasa is the debut full-length from Mbongwana Star, made up of Coco Ngambali and Theo Nsituvuidi. For this record, the duo drafted Irish producer Liam Farrell to construct a spacey, futuristic aura around the group’s lively songwriting.
Ngambali and Nsituvuidi vocalize in Lingala, a Bantu language indigenous to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They weave cascading adlibs, lush harmonies, and rhythmic outbursts together to invoke a communal spirit that’s vigorously celebratory at times (“Shégué,” “Malukayi”) and breathtakingly serene during others (“Coco Blues”). It’s equal parts chaotic and catchy, with distinct cultural sounds gorgeously infused.
Farrell’s studio wizardry is what takes this record full of traditional central African hip-hop, r&b, reggae, and rumba, and transforms it into an celestial, genre-bending exploration through sound. Mix all of that with this duo’s exceptional ability to write rewarding hooks, and you’ve got yourself a truly unique experience. If you’re seeking eclectic, ethereal music with a distinct central African touch, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)