Bantou Mentale – Bantou Mentale

Album Review | Glitterbeat Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

The cover shot and various accompanying photos kind of explains the Bantou Mentale ethos, that of the various traditional Congolese people of Kinshasa in full tribal dress, making themselves very much at home in the Parisian Chateau Rouge.  The music echoes this with the dozen tracks that make up the band’s self-titled debut. The four members, Cubain Kabeya, Chicco Katembo, Apocalypse and Doctor L (Liam Farrell), play hard, energetic, slightly rough-edged and driven music.

If “Suabala” demonstrates the band’s utterly contemporary grime feel, then the heart of the album might be found in “Papa Joe”, written in memory of an old, now deceased friend who allegedly threw all the best parties, whilst the soul is successfully captured in the impassioned vocal on “Boloko”, each being possibly the most accessible songs on the record.  With musicians from the ranks of such notable outfits as Staff Benda Bilili, Konono No 1, Jupiter & Okwess and Mbongwana Star, it’s little surprise that Bentou Mentale shimmers with strong beats, colourful effects and vibrant rhythms throughout the twelve tracks.

Choice Track: “Papa Jo” (NSV 487)