THE ACRIMONIOUS BREAK-UP of Staff Benda Bilili briefly led to two bands of that name, but the smart money was always on songwriter Coco Ngambali putting daylight between the two. Inspired by Tony Allen’s Dark Voices, which was produced by the Paris-based DJ Doctor L (Liam Farrell), this has more daylight than a summer solstice.
“The smart money was always on songwriter Coco Ngambali.”
Twiddling the knobs, Farrell here draws a line between New York circa 1980, when something new had arrived musically but nobody knew quite what and tomorrow was up for grabs, and early 1970s Africa, when the future still looked bright.
Kala is where the album explodes into life, cowbell rhythm giving way to relentless electronic drive; Malukayi ups the intensity with backing from Konono No 1; Shégué pays tribute to their roots as street kids; and Suzanna is head banging techno with rumba guitar. The jungle is still rumbling.
Watch Malukayi (featuring Konono No 1) here: