The Music of Montparnasse: Futuristic Archeology in Kinshasa

“Imagine a panorama of Africa from north to south, focused on the Congo. » It is with these few words that the duo Montparnasse Musique concludes their adventure, an electronic exploration of the continent from top to bottom. Being everywhere at the same time is less than the leitmotif of Nadjib Ben Bella, who, hiding behind the pseudonym DJ BoulaOne, established himself as one of the main figures of the hip-hop movement in the north of France in the 90s. In 2000, Nadjib put his art of turntablism at the service of live music, touring with the French-Algerian band Gnawa Diffusion, or DJ Bigband, DJ Grazzhopa’s supergroup of 12 DJs. More recently, he conducted the African Amazons tour, and then made his first contact with Peter Gabriel’s label, Real World. From the Tourcoing studio in Lille, the Franco-Algerian tells us how he and South African duo Aero Manyelo brought this delightful debut album to life.

Destination Kinshasa

Montparnasse-Bienvenue, note the closing of the gates. It all started in this Paris metro station, where Nadjib made an appointment with Aero Manyelo after a concert by the band Batuk (a member of South Africa), not knowing that the night would end in a traffic jam. . It’s hard to imagine that the meeting of the two worlds on the station platform would create many sparks, until the first notes of the upcoming banger “Sukuma” began to resonate that very evening. “It was the first song we played together and it confirmed that we would get along well.”, Najib remembers. After 20 years of all kinds of musical experience, Aero is his first 100% electronic collaboration, which hasn’t stopped this fusion bond from forming: “What I like about his vision is that he’s very musical; he used to listen to a lot of soukous with his parents in Johannesburg when he was younger and it’s a culture that fascinates me! »

Montparnasse Musique is Algeria meeting South Africa to talk about Congo. But not only. “We made the album here in Tourcoing”the northerner explains, “Belgium is at the end of my street and that’s an important element”. With a little imagination, we can discover the elements that characterize this land of clubs. “Sometimes there are things that sound like Thunderdome (series of hardcore compilations from the 90s, editor’s note) Coming from Kinshasa! » Says Nadjib, a former loyal customer of Belgian clubs. Their second EP Origin the fact that the two want to live behind closed doors without visitors is also a witness to this techno facet. Unfortunately, or on purpose, Crammed Discs in Brussels, Belgium is based on the label that created the project. congotronic, Under the direction of Michelle Winter…

© Eric Beckham
Retro futuristic epic

building on the foundations of congotronicsThe legendary series, dedicated to the traditional mutant sound of Kinshasa, Nadjib and Aero, manages to convince musicians and throw them on an even more electric adventure. “Respect their historical work.” The vibes of the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, channeled by members of Konono n°1, Kasai Allstars and Mbongwana Stars, are then juxtaposed with the modern Johannesburg house and multicultural puzzles of Najib’s imagination. A mess we could easily classify as Afro-futuristic if we like shortcuts: “it’s today’s music, but it works for the imagination”, Najib tells us when asked his opinion on the matter. To support this idea, Montparnasse Musique has demonstrated a strong visual identity since their debut EP, cut by director Renaud Barret. VisualArchaeology seems to come from outer space: “The Richard Mossen photographs we use are absolutely timeless, it’s like a trip to the moon! “.

These masks, another key element of the Montparnasse universe “It reminds of the performing side of Kinshasa, this madness of modern art that reigns there without folklore”. The Cuban craftsman and musician Kabeya, the author of these works, also plays the hand-crafted instruments on CD and live. It confirms the noble meaning: “Making art objects with items from the trash is something that is close to my heart in the creative process. We are alchemists, we don’t need much to do what we love. »

Title Archaeology translates the invisible connection the artists share with the elders through the project: “it’s a mystical connection, you can feel it even without understanding the texts, it’s very deep”, Najib explains. “We wanted to pay respect to the ancestors, to those who are beyond us. » It was as if a ritual was taking place on the dance floor. Archaeology In addition to conveying themes dear to the Kasai region, it perfectly combines spirituality and joy, trance and club culture. “We have given guests carte blanche to text and understand that there are no political or negative messages.”is happy “What interests me in the philosophy of Mambuye de Kasai Allstars is to contribute to the recording to prove and preserve their ancestral music. » The influence of leaders (“Panther”, “Malele”), the value of work (“Luendo”, “The Serpent”), life as a battle (“Bitumba”) or the celebration of newborn twins (“Kamoulan”); Soaring from the north of France in unifying electro-acoustic euphoria, many messages from the news or another time!

Scrapbook Archaeology Available from October 21 here.

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