Release Date: Jul 15, 2008
Record label: Crammed Disc
Is this the longest album title ever? It's certainly the longest by a Congolese band, though the Kasai Allstars deserve to be known for their hypnotic music rather than as the answer to an African pop trivia quiz. Last heard on the Congotronics 2 album alongside their compatriots Konono No 1, who became unlikely heroes among electronica and alt-rock fans, the Allstars continue the Congolese tradition of producing some of the wildest and most unusual sounds on the planet. There are 25 musicians in the band, with six lead vocalists, and instrumentalists playing drums, guitars and (as with Konono) highly distorted, amplified traditional likembe thumb pianos.
In the age of the nanosecond soundbite, you have to admire an album with no less than twenty-six syllables in its title; after listening to the antediluvian drone-funk within, you’ll be hard pushed to mumble any of them. Wielding instruments “far easier to find.. in the museums of the northern hemisphere than in the Congolese cities or countryside”, Kasai Allstars chart a relentless course to glassy-eyed trancedom, shaking a headfeather at centuries of colonial and religious censure and ultimately leaving you wondering what day it is, never mind what track you’re listening to.
In the 7th Moon, the Chief Turned into a Swimming Fish and Ate the Head of his Enemy by Magic, the new album from Kinshasa's Kasai Allstars, represents not only one of music's more elaborate album titles, but also a bit of varsity gold for Crammed Discs' Congotronics series. Preceded by Konono No. 1's album, and the Congotronics Vol. 2 compilation that quickly followed, In the 7th Moon… brings not just more of the same but in fact a more nuanced and better recorded version of what the first two promised.