Damon Albarn is an incredibly busy and admirably eclectic dude. When he’s not creating complete albums on his iPad while touring he’s flying across to globe to Congo to dive nosedeep into the country’s rich musical history and record an album in seven days. XL Records flew over to take a listen at what’s up.
Having recently read David van Reybrouck’s impressive and engrossing ‘Congo: A History‘ makes me even more psyched for this project. Aside from the many wars and bouts with colonialism, the book also speaks on the big influence of Congolese rumba on African music and is filled with fantastic anecdotes about musical life in the country. Like when Werrason, a huge star in central Africa, changed his beer sponsor from Skol to Primus and the second brand skyrocketed and became the national drink. A concert where he ‘battled’ his most prominent opponents for dominance over Kinshasa lasted for over 12 hours until it was broken up by riot police. So yeah, music in Congo? Pretty big deal.
Besides Damon Albarn, who’s vision is spearheading the project and merits interest in it’s own right, other musicians involved with the project are Dan the Automator, Actress, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Kwes, Jniero Jarel, Marc Antoine, and Jo Gunton. Proceeds from the project go to Oxfam, which seems like a good idea since the DCR can use all the help they can get. TRU is definitely keeping an eye peeled on this.