Words by Philip Sweeney, Photo by Caro Blache
From the first notes this sounds like Nobel Prize material, if the committee ever decided that making people dance deserved global recognition. It’s immediately clear that we’re in for an hour of fairly unalloyed bliss. Round 2 is the follow-up to an album convened by Modogo Abarambwa and Sam Tshintu, with the aim of reviving the traditional acoustic roots of Congolese rumba.
There’s a big cast of great voices, guitarists and percussionists new and old, including the singer Ballou Canta and guitarist Popolipo Beniko. Beniko is probably the star of the album with his liquid, sparkling solo guitar constantly ready to lift an exciting passage into an ecstatic one. The wonderfully named crooners Wole Sentimenta and Pims Lomena (nice product placement, that drinks company) contribute an exquisite Anglo-Lingala duet ‘Sweet Home’, which even includes a fab zouk section, while Tabou Combo’s vocalist Yves ‘Fanfan’ Joseph adds an ode to Haiti adorned with premium quality kompas guitar by the maestro Beniko.
It takes more than just a bunch of great musicians to make a great album, and Black Bazar’s second album has the variety of material, richness of arrangement and excellence of production to do the job. Poor old Congo may be a political basket case, but there’s still no place on the planet that makes better dance music.
TRACK TO TRY: ‘Combo Congo’