Filet Selektah: C-drík
A musician, a DJ and a publisher C-drík is a child of globalization and multiculturalism. Born in Congo, he lives in Berlin, interested in African and Asian music, techno, experimental electronics, hip-hop, ambient, industrial and more.
Музыка, дыджэй і выдавец (уласнік лэйбла Syrphe) C-drík – дзіця глабалізацыі і мультыкультуралізма. Нарадзіўся у Конга, жыве ў Берліне, цікавіцца афрыканскай і азіяцкай музыкай, тэхна, эксперыментальнай электронікай, хіп-хопам, эмбіентам і індастрыялам.
I’m C-drík aka Kirdec, a musician and composer based in Berlin, born in the DR Congo when it was still called Zaire. Of Congolese, Greek and Belgian descent, I grew up in Belgium and also lived a few years in the Netherlands. I compose electronic music, from electroacoustic to noise and other experimental forms of music to electronica, industrial, digital hardcore, ambient and more. I have been involved in various projects and bands since 1989 in Belgium, Singapore, Lebanon, China, Germany, etc. Some are still active today, among them Axiome, Tasjiil Moujahed and Tetra Plok.
I run a label called Syrphe mostly dedicated to artists from Asia and Africa who do noise, experimental and electronic music and some of my works. I tour the world, especially Europe and various parts of Asia but also Africa to perform and discover alternative music artists.
This summer, Syrphe will publish a book and new compilation called Not Your World Music: Noise in South East Asia, Pekak! Indonesian noise 1995-2015, an audio-DVD compilation including 123 artists from Indonesia, mostly doing noise and experimental music, almost 9 hours of music and the second album of Tasjiil Moujahed : The End Of Permanence.
It is for me difficult to limit this list to ten artists. I decided to include seven Congolese artists and three from three other countries, all from sub-Saharan Africa. I decided to exclude North Africa, where more and more noise and electronic musicians are active, because sub-Saharian electronic music is really underrated, especially when it isn’t folktronica, kuduro, kwaito, techno or hip hop music. I also limited myself to electronic music (mostly) but there are also other artists in countries like Botswana, Tanzania, Angola, Kenya, Mozambique, Réunion Island, South Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and so on doing good punk, death metal or jazz music for example.
The listeners will notice that a lot of the Congolese artists I listed here were produced or partly produced by Westerners. I think there are various reasons to this, one being the lack of access to (expensive) electronic instruments, computers and studios in the Congo. Another one is the fact that I never went back to the Congo and am sure I miss a big part of the scene.
I also hardly made the choice to not include some of the pioneers of African electronic music from the 1970s (or even from the 1940s for one) such as William Onyeabor (Nigeria), Mammane Sanni Abdoulaye (Niger), Halim El-Dabh (Egypt) and Francis Bebe (Cameroon) and other South African experimental and electroacoustic composers, you can nevertheless find a list on my website syrphe.com
Zazou, Bikaye + Cy1 – Lamuka (1983), from the album Noir Et Blanc published by Crammed Discs.
This is the first alternative electronic music release which includes a Congolese artist I discovered a long time ago. This is an amazing album mixing electro-pop, dub and Congolese songs. Hector Zazou was a composer and producer from France, of Algerian descent. I think that some of his avant-garde compositions were amazingly good and some of his world music collaborations a real disaster but this is so far one of his best collaboration he made.
Bony Bikaye was or still is, I don’t know, a singer from the DR Congo who lived or still lives in France. I don’t know much about him apart of his collaborations with Zazou which were electro-funk oriented. He published several eurodance CDs in the 1990s in France. Cy 1 were two electronic music composers from France : Claude Micheli and Guillaume Loizillon. Loizillon published a few records with the projects Dièse 440 and Théâtre Commercial.
Denis Mpunga & Paul K. – Criola (1984), from the compilation Creep-z on Home Produkt, re-published in 1986 on the compilation Terra Incognita II published by Auxilio De Cientos.
It was a duo based in Belgium. Mpunga, from the DR Congo now lives in France and is a theatre director. Unfortunately, there are only a few songs available on vinyl and cassette compilations. The few tracks they published were usually a mix of minimal electronic with Congolese influences. The track Criola reflects most of the tracks they published, nevertheless, I wanted to present another track which is not available online : Terra Incognita, published in 1987 on the compilation Insane Music For Insane People Vol. 13 by the label Insane Music. The track is more in the field of ambient and experimental music.
In fact all those tracks by Denis Mpunga & Paul K. appeared on compilations featuring electronic body music, industrial, experimental or new wave artists such as Bene Gesserit, Twilight Ritual, Attrition, Kastrieste Philosphen, The Klinik, 48 Cameras, etc.
Konono N°1 – Lufuala Ndonga (2004), from the album Congotronics, published by Crammed Discs.
Konono N°1 is a band from DR Congo founded by likembé’s player Mingiedi Mawangu in the 1960s. Their first recording published outside of the Congo appeared on the compilation Zaïre: Musiques Urbaines À Kinshasa, recorded in 1978 by Bernard Treton for the label Ocora but published later in 1989.
To me this band plays traditional music, even tough many journalist pretend it is avant-garde or experimental, I don’t see it like this. The way they perform is indeed modern, they use percussions, electrified likembés and megaphones which distort their music and some of the voices. The result is very interesting, I think it even amplifies the feeling of trance that their music provides, plaid at high volume, it’s very intense. The band was invited by Björk to collaborate on the song Earth Intruders, co-produced by Timbaland, for her Volta album in 2007.
DRC Music – Ah Congo (feat Jupiter Bokondji and Bokatola System) (2011), from the album Kinshasa One Two, published by Warp Records, also published in Japan by Beat Records.
DRC Music is a collective of producers gathered by Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz) who also published two CDs on the label Honest Jon’s Records with Afel Bocoum and Toumani Diabaté in the band Mali Music. Their album Kinshasa One Two was recorded in Kinshasa over 5 days. They recorded it with contemporary Congolese musicians and worked with more than 50 local performers including Jupiter and the Okwess International, Bokatola System and Nelly Liyemge. Women, men and even at least one child participated to the project. The result is very interesting, no world music soup. It oscillates between mainstream and alternative music with various influences from Congolese folk to ambient to dub and electronica.
Mbongwana Star – Kala (2015), from the album From Kinshasa, published by World Circuit.
Mbongwana Star also comes from Kinshasa. It has been produced by drummer and bassist Doctor L, a French-Irish musician who played with Taxi-Girl, Les Rita Mitsouko, Les Wampas and more) together with Coco Yakala Ngambali, Theo Nzonza Nsituvuidi, Cubain Kabeya, Jean-Claude Kamina Mulodi aka R9 and Augustin Makuntima Mawangu who’s also active in Konono N°1 participited to one of their songs. Kala is their most electronic song, also a very good compromise between African EDM and alternative music.
Their album blends various influences, a lot of Congolese once but some good electronic elements at time and a tiny rock and new wave touch now and then I feel.
I like their video clips in which people dancing are omnipresent, that reminds me of many shangaan electro video clips, from Johannesburg but in a more afro-futurist mood.
Petite Noir – Pressure (2012).
Petite Noir is Yannick Ilunga, a musician born in Belgium, of Congolese and Angolan descent who lives in South Africa. The music he plays since the early 2010s is in the field of indie rock which is not the usual kind of music I listen to but I have been impressed by the track Pressure which has a new wave touch, reminding me a bit of Joy Division.
Elsa M’bala (Cameroon) – Min I Sog Bogui A Mbog Ibia (Bienvenue au Mboa remix) (2016).
Elsa is German-Cameroonian composer. She lives in Yaoundé where she composes guitar-oriented folk songs but also experiments with electronics and field recordings. She mixes traditional instruments such as the mbira (similar to the likembé) with voices, effects, electronics, and sounds from her environment.
Emeka Ogboh (Nigeria) – UnderBridge.
Emeka is an audiovisual artist based in Lagos. He experiments with field recordings and collects the sounds of Lagos, grabbing the unique audio landscape of the city. He realised several projects and sound installations in Germany, the USA, Ethiopia, Luxembourg, Morocco, Croatia, etc., among them, Market Symphony a sound art installation for the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.
Kwerk (Mauritius) – Thud (2012), from the compilation 30.2 – Electronica, experimental and noise from Africa, released by Syrphe.
Kwerk is David Channe Vy, possibly the only electronica musician of the island – let’s hope I’m wrong but we never found any other. I like his compostions which sound like a sound track from a dystopian future, especially the track Thud. I think it would perfectly fit to a science-fiction film like Pumzi directed by Kenyan film maker Wanuri Kahiu.
Mikael Seifu (Ethiopia) – Drkness Iz (2014) from the EP Yarada Lij, published by Rvng Intl.
Mikael mixes Ethiopian music and rhythm with electronica with a touch of ambient and dub. Ethiopia is well-know for his diverse forms of folk music but also jazz and slowly electronic music.
August 18, 2016