Album Review | Top of the World | Kasai Allstars – Beware the Fetish

Posted on August 27th, 2014 in Live, Reviews by .


Words by Martin Longley

Beware-the-FetishA big thumbs-up for those thumb pianos

The Kinshasa collective’s second album is a follow-up to their 2008 debut, uniting the approaches of five ethnic groups. It’s lovingly recorded, buzzing likembe thumb-pianos presented at length, to steadily intensifying effect.

The repertoire is ritual and has been controversial for both its sauciness and its sorcery. The line-up combines voices, guitars, xylophones, buzz-drums, and likembes, including one frighteningly low bass-monster model. Just like a rock album, we’re urged to play it loud, which is sound advice given that there are elements of this music that are feeding back and cross-resonating in ways reminiscent of trance and psychedelic guitar music. The distortion derives from a dangerous combination of instruments with makeshift amplification and heavy-duty speakers.

Could it be an illusion, or does everything sound even more extreme by the time we’re getting deep into the second disc? The curve of aural distress rises exponentially as the towering tunes of ‘Thus Spoke the Ancestors’, ‘In Praise of Homeboys’ and the title-track pulsate at length. Even though the Kasai clan is already massive, there’s no shortage of guest appearances, with members of Deerhoof and Konono No 1 contributing to the set’s closing track, recorded live on the Congotronics tour, and fully realising the rock’n’roll comparisons.

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