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Bouger le monde!

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Album Review

Staff Benda Bilili rightly made a splash with their first album and the tale behind it. The question was, though, how much depth did they have to sustain a career? On the basis of this sophomore release, the answer is plenty. There's a new drummer and lead guitarist, and the return of their percussionist, as well as a greater sharing of the vocal duties. Plenty of touring has turned them into a very tight band, even more so than before, and one that's less afraid to let go — "Bilanga" is virtually African rock, while that and "Tangi I Fueni" show new guitarist Amalphi to be a real find, and quite Hendrix-influenced. Recorded in a real studio this time, rather than the Kinshasa zoo, it builds on their earlier work, with some sophisticated songwriting and music that springs out of, but isn't too beholden to, Congolese rhumba. All the pieces here slot together beautifully, and using more voices creates more complex layers of vocals that only add to the pieces. Everything that made them special is still here, and there are plenty of little idiosyncracies (as on the intro to "Kuluna"). But they've shown that they're the musical equals of any band on the planet.

Customer Reviews

Moving The World Indeed

It is the apex of the so-called “Congotronics” movement that Crammed Discs has been pushing with Konono No. 1 and similar bands. It is innovative but still rooted in a firm roots tradition. It is socially committed but not predictably or boringly so. And it will help you shake your butt. Easily a candidate for best record of the year. –Matt Cibula, PopMatters

Bouger Le Monde offers a celebration of life: "Osali Mabe" brims with uptempo energy and sparkling soukous guitar lines, while "Bilanga" is speedy rumba-rock stippled with percussion and streaked with the banshee runs of Roger Landu's satongé. Their songs focus on self-reliance – "My handicap doesn't stop me from being clever," they sing in "Mutu Esakala" – and they're unafraid of criticising gangsters, priests and politicians. After all, they've faced down tougher challenges. –Andy Gill, The Independent

Kinshasa's troupe of disabled musicians have indeed "moved the world" with their trajectory from street scufflers to international stars, a feat celebrated here on Apandjokwetu. Recorded in a studio rather than in the zoo gardens, this second outing presents a richer, more percussive sound, albeit one still shot through with the zinging pyrotechnics of tin-can guitar. Its lilting, layered vocals and loping grooves are anchored in the conventions of Congo's 1980s soukous, though there's an expedition into swamp blues on Djambula. Its themes range across disability, street gangs and shady preachers, and the edginess of their debut still lurks below the polished vocal harmonies. –Neil Spencer, The Observer

Biography

Formed: Kinshasa, Congo

Genre: World

Years Active: '00s

Staff Benda Bilili is a group of Congolese street musicians who play a fusion of rumba, reggae, and vintage R&B. Formed by Ricky Likabu and Coco Ngambali, the band consists of four middle-aged paraplegics, all of whom were confined to wheelchairs after suffering polio as children, as well as several younger members. Roger Landu, who joined the group as a teenager, acts as a lead guitarist of sorts, playing instrumental solos on a one-string electric he built out of a tin can. The other younger members...
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Bouger le monde!, Staff Benda Bilili
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