Staff Benda Bilili - Très Très Fort (4 stars)

Staff Benda Bilili - Très Très Fort

(Crammed Disks)

One of last autumn’s world music highlights, this spookily beautiful album, which includes musicians, amphibians and some catchier-than- the-cold rhythms, is still irresistible.

The slightly eerie sound of the plucked string of the home-made satongé introduces beseechingly rough yet seductive voices over grooving beds of guitars, announcing Congolese rumba with a difference.

Recorded by veteran Belgian producer Vincent Kenis (TPOK Jazz, Konono Number One, Kasai All-Stars) in the grounds of the Kinshasa Zoo, a group of music making polio victims who hitherto spent their lives in customised wheel chairs busking, have become the 21st century world music group. With young able-bodied musicians providing drum and bass, this is irresistible music complete with frogs. The band’s name means ‘Look beyond first appearances’ – a message to take to heart through these infectious rhythms.

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