DRC Music – Kinshasa One Two

January 01, 1970





If you think the massive
imbalance of wealth is bad in the USA, the way things are in the
Democratic Republic of Congo makes the situation here seem like the Eisenhower
days by comparison.


The small North African nation is
one of the richest in the entire world, with over $24 trillion worth of such
precious minerals as cobalt, copper, gold and diamonds existing under the feet
of its citizens. Yet the Congo
is as rife with poverty as Haiti.
And even worse, the country is overrun by local warlords who will commit the
kinds of shocking acts of torture and murder you only thought existed in Dario
Argento films. But the funny thing is, listening to the joyous harmonies and
kinetic rhythms embodied within the music that emanates from the hut windows
and village squares in the DRC, you’d hardly suspect the dire straits of the
human rights atrocities existent in the people’s day-to-day lives.


Looking to provide assistance that
would resonate beyond the absentee philanthropy of his colleagues in rock
stardom like Bono and Chris Martin, Damon Albarn chose to gather up some of his
most faithful pals, including T-E-E-D (Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs), Dan
The Automator, Jneiro Jarel, Richard Russell, Actress, Marc Antoine, Alwest,
Remi Kabaka, Rodaidh McDonald and Kwes, to spend a week in the Congo working
with some of the region’s most talented musicians for a collaborative jam
session called DRC Music, released on Warp Records (the Blur frontman’s first
project for them, believe it or not). The resulting efforts is an excellent
fusion of indigenous and electronic music that finds the man behind Gorillaz
getting down with actual Guerillas.


During the scope of the six days
the collective spent in a tiny space at the French Cultural Institute recording
Kinshasa One Two, the locals brought
a strange array of homemade instruments, from a junkyard drum kit straight out
of Fat Albert to giant gourds to
industrial tubes to a bag of beans to bring the noise. Meanwhile, the
foreigners came equipped with laptops and iPads to splice and dice the madness
into something tangible for the ear hole. And the combination of the two
disparate methods of performance made for quite an extraordinary menagerie of
styles that will definitely appeal to hip-hop, art pop and world music fans


All proceeds toward the purchase
of this LP go directly to Oxfam International, giving much needed aid to many
of the men who took part in this DRC Music project as well as their friends and
families. And if enough people do the right thing and go out and buy Kinshasa One Two (preferably on vinyl),
then Albarn’s exercise in entrenched benevolence will go further than the
over-exaggerated glad handing of his peers ever could. RON HART



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