Using a spectacular mixture of acoustic instruments, electric guitars, distortion-laden thumb pianos and soulful vocals, Kasai Allstars include musicians all based in Kinshasa, DR Congo, but originating from five different ethnic groups, each with their own language and musical tradition.
They draw their songs from festive and ritual music played in the bush before being banned by the Europeans, who considered the highly erotic dances and the pagan trance ceremonies as "satanic".
Kasai Allstars is a collective revolving around 25 musicians from five bands, all from the Kasai region, but originating from five different ethnic groups: the Luba, the Songye, the Lulua, the Tetela and the Luntu. Some of these groups have endured conflicting relationships over the centuries, they each have their own culture, their own language and their own musical traditions, which were always thought to be incompatible until these musicians decided to pool their resources and form a "superband".
Kasai Allstars' music is powerful and sophisticated, driving and raw. It blends acoustic instruments with electric guitars, distortion-laden thumb pianos (with DIY amplification) and soulful vocals. Compared to Konono N°1 (whose minimal and effective sound has been massively adopted by the international electronica, world music and alternative rock scenes), Kasai Allstars use a broader array of instruments & textures, and wilder, more complex polyrhythms… They often sound like some kind of retro-futurist primeval rock band ("This is rock sucked back to the continent of its birth to be granted a glorious resurrection", wrote UK magazine The Word)
While the cultural aspect of their work is important to them, the members of the Kasai Allstars collective are first and foremost musicians and performers, who decided to try and throw their respective traditions, styles, languages and instruments into a common musical sandbox. This process (which means that they often have to invent new parts, and adapt certain musical patterns for instruments that normally don't play them), as well as the band's interaction with modern amplification and production techniques (through their collaboration with the producer of the album, Vincent Kenis), all give an exciting and very creative angle to the project.