November 20, 2010

Tradi-Mods Vs. Rockers: Alternative Takes On Congotronics

ARTIST:  various artists
TITLE:  Tradi-Mods Vs. Rockers: Alternative Takes On Congotronics
LABEL:  Crammed Discs
REVIEW:  Very little of the world music I review ever seems to penetrate the hipster cordon sanitaire of the indie-rock subculture.  But for some reason, the Congotronics sound of bands like Konono No. 1 and Kasai Allstars has been nearly universally embraced by the beard-wearing community in the USA and Europe.  Crammed Discs has taken advantage of that fact by asking 26 indie artists to record homages to Congotronics.  While most of the artists here are really recording homages to themselves and the good taste they demonstrate by digging Congotronics, a few go above and beyond in creating delightfully unexpected musical collisions.  Juana Molina (disc 1 - track 9) grafts one of her older songs onto Kasai’s “Wa Muluendo” and somehow ends up with something like neo-tropicalia, sounding like a previously unheard Gal Costa recording.  Jherel Bischoff (1-7) transcribes Konono’s “Kule Kule” for orchestral instruments, an idea that’s so wrong it’s absolutely right. Hoquets (2-2) built all their own instruments out of salvaged materials after seeing the Congotronics bands; they attack those instruments with a punk-rock gusto they share with the bands that inspired them. As for the brand-name indie artists, all of them sound more or less like themselves; only Deerhoof (1-1)’s subversively clunky take on “Wu Muluendo” really adds anything noteworthy to the proceedings.
REVIEWER:  Bill Lupoletti
Disc 1:    1    7    9        Disc 2:    2

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