Congolese collective Kasai Allstars' epically titled 2008 debut In the 7th Moon, The Chief Turned Into a Swimming Fish and Ate the Head of His Enemy by Magic was a joyous triumph. The third installment of the Congotronics series, the album stood out from the rest of the catalog in its broad spectrum of interweaving styles and instrumentation derived from the intersection of roughly two-dozen musicians from different parts of the region, all with their own culture, language, and approach to music. The hybridized sounds implemented traditional Kasai instruments like xylophone and likembe, as well as crudely amplified guitar, presenting an overflowing cornucopia of sounds melted together from the players' various perspectives.
Six years after their debut album, the Kinshasa-based collective are back with a double album of lengthy, hypnotic songs that provide a furious reminder of the wilder side of Congolese music. Kasai Allstars are a 16-piece band made up of five different groups from the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, joined here by an extra 24 guest musicians. All of the tracks involve chanting, an insistent array of percussion and relentless riffs from guitars, xylophones and the amplified, distorted likembe thumb piano.
Of all the bands that have contributed to Crammed Discs’ Congotronics series over the last decade, Kasai Allstars are the one that cast the widest sonic net. It’s built into the band and reflected in their name; they’re allstars because they play in other groups. Five, to be exact, each representing the electric street music of a different ethnicity.
Richard Mosse's recent installation, film and photography project The Enclave is perhaps the best indicator of late capitalism's troubled perception of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Using a stock of infra-red film that renders the Congo in shades of bubble-gum pink, it sits somewhere between war documentary and hyper-real hallucination. Ben Frost, Mosse's musical collaborator, has also made several references in interviews to how the experience of making the film influenced his own album A U R O R A.