Watch/Review: Mbongwana Star – Malukayi (feat Konono No1)

This may be the first time Lost in the Manor has prospected for fresh sounds in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but if Mbongwana Star’s opening salvo, ‘Malukayi (feat Konono No 1)’, is a marker then it won’t be the last. As fresh a segment of audio as is likely to be unearthed, this six-minute single is essentially a progressive charge of irresistible dancehall Afro-funk, yet it has a surreal, claustrophobic air imbued by a growling bassline that, for all its giant heft, just seems to hang there, as well as an other-worldly metallic melody courtesy of Konono No 1, perhaps played out on salvaged steel. Produced by Doctor L, a Paris-based musician who reasons “distortion multiplies the energy”, ‘Malukayi’ sounds rusted, unhinged, warped and wonderful, not unlike a teeming modern metropolis. No coincidence, then, that the debut album by the seven-piece Mbongwana Star (who include two members of the late Staff Benda Bilili) draws its title from the DRC's capital city, or that ‘Malukayi’’s yet-stranger video borrows the Sin City template to splice scenes of twilight street- and sofa-life with band and dancer shots and a scene-stealing spaceman. Yes, you did read all that correctly, perhaps it’s best if you just watch and listen…

Mbongwana Star's album, From Kinshasa, is out on 18 May on World Circuit

Words by Nick Mee. Follow @Nickjmee on Twitter