Bantou Mentale - Bantou Mentale
A dark, thundering Kinshasa meets Paris soundworld. Ecstatic vocals, broken beats, subterranean bass and full-throttle energy. This four-piece group of sonic groundbreakers have delivered a scintillating debut album. Bantou Mentale was born in Chateau Rouge and born out of Matongé. Drummer and song-writer Cubain Kabeya -- originally from the DRC, now resident in Paris -- has been in or around every big thrill to come out of Kinshasa over the past decade: Staff Benda Bilili, Konono No.1, Jupiter & Okwess, Mbongwana Star. Guitarist Chicco Katembo was part of the Staff Benda Bilili story in the early days, before moving to Paris to live with his French mother. Singer Apocalypse is an ace face on the Parisian Congo scene, an alumnus of the orchestra of Koffi Olomide, emperor of contemporary Congolese soukous. Liam Farrell, aka Doctor L, born Irish, raised Parisian, is a musician, composer, and producer with an impressive score sheet that includes Assassin, FFF, Psycho on Da Bus, Tony Allen, Mbongwana Star, Babani Koné, Nneka, Les Amazones d'Afrique.
The Bantou Mentale sound is neither traditional, nor slave to the all-encompassing tropes of Congolese rumba, nor slick and arty and self-consciously stylish. They're bringing something modern, raw, open to the world. Liam and Cubain have been distilling experimental mashes of electro African beats on-and-off for years, under names like Black Cowboys or Negro-P. The sound is a gleeful borderless up-cycling of all the urban styles that Paris, London, New York, Kinshasa have been doling out to the world these past two decades, combined into something new and purposeful. There are songs like "Zanzibar" and "Sango" that lament the clandestino stuck in the desert, penniless, screwed. And songs like "Chateau Rouge" that celebrate the wild uncertainty, the liberation, the fellowship of the migrant. "Boko Haram" bemoans the intellectual subservience and social servitude of many Africans, with music that's underpinned by the pulse of the forest and propelled by roughneck riffs and phasing guitars. "Papa Jo" pays homage to an old departed friend from Kinshasa who threw the best parties in his ramshackle house. The delicious grime of "Suabala" hides a story of love, with levels of passion and guitars frolicking in the red. "Boloko" is slower, more ethereal, with its subversion of the sound of those angelic choirs of "saved" little African kids that were the pride of the missionaries. "Syria" tells you that there's no future in petrol wars, with music that's strangled, painful, urgent, tragic, with plenty of glorious distortion.