Mbongwana Star, a newly formed seven-piece band from the Democratic Republic of Congo, celebrate the release of their debut album, ‘From Kinshasa’, with two London shows, at Café Oto and here at Rich Mix.
Coco Ngambali and Theo Nzonza first formed a band fifteen years ago, inspired by their love of Congolese rumba and its pantheon – Franco, Tabu Ley Rochereau and Pépé Kallé. That band, Staff Benda Bilili, hit the big time: two major albums, a world tour and starring roles in the acclaimed film ‘Benda Bilili’. Inevitably, the big time hit right back. The band collapsed under the weight of its own success.
Mbongwana Star’s sound isn’t what you would expect from a Congolese band or even an African band. Like the weird Congo Astronaut that haunts their first video, ‘Malukayi (feat. Konono No.1)’, Mbongwana Star is a naturally occurring, smashed-together combination of things that’s both unexpected and somehow inevitable too. They’re made from bits of the past and point toward a strange but exciting kind of future, but more importantly you can tell that they’re just loving the present.