Airport Trenčín 11 — 13 July 2024
Mbongwana Star

Mbongwana Star

Alexis Petridis, music critic and editor of The Guardian and GQ magazine, rated the band’s debut album From Kinshasa five stars out of five. The average score of Mbongwana Star on Metascore is an impressive 88%. The Irish producer Doctor L and former members of the band Staff Benda Bilili created a remarkable project that will represent world music in the line-up of this year’s Pohoda.

12. April 2016

The core of the seven-member band Mbongwana Star consists of two former members of the famous Congolese band of wheelchaired persons and street children named Staff Benda Bilili (members Coco Ngambali and Théo Ntsituvuidi) and the Irish producer Liam Farrell (Doctor L). Liam met the band through Tony Allen (with whom he collaborated on the album Tony Allen - Black Voices). When Liam came to Kinshasa, the first playing together looked more like a party of friends and neighbours. They rented a house and set up a provisional studio that had electricity supply from a generator (public electricity supply in Congo is not very reliable). Liam brought punk approach and psychedelic electronics that mix well with the temperament African rhythms and wavy guitar lines of the local sokous genre. He also introduced quieter passages in the African music full singing and solos, so that a listener can think about the music. After his return to Paris, he processed the recorded material in his home studio. The result was a surprise to him, and much to the other founding members of the band. Theo concluded that Liam had turned water into wine. The music publisher World Circuit (behind Buena Vista Social Club) felt the same and immediately offered a contract to Mbongwana Star for their debut release.
Alex Petridis adds that the album From Kinshasa does not allow for comparisons, since it is like nothing else, in a positive way. Tim Jonze in another The Guardianʼs article writes, “You can feel the imprint of a white producer in the album, but it is not as significant as it might seem. On the contrary, the spirit of the music is Congolese. Who did what in that music? If itʼs exciting, who cares?”