MUSIC REVIEWS: Jakob Dylan and Congotronics 3

Jakob Dylan
Seeing Things
Columbia Records

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With Jakob Dylan releasing his first solo album sans the Wallflowers, it seems like he is trying to take after his father, even by just looking at the album cover. But if you’re blessed with the talent and coolness that comes with the Dylan name, run with it.

Seeing Things has a very clean, stripped down feel with nothing but soft vocals, an acoustic guitar and subtle hints of drum and bass throughout. However, there is no denying this album is about the songwriting. He channels the 60’s that brought the original Dylan into the spotlight, with songs like “War is Kind” and “Evil is Alive and Well” telling somber stories of struggle and the effect of the Iraq war.

Seeing Things showcases an extreme amount of talent and is an overall good listen, but it’s easy to find yourself switching to the next song hoping for something more upbeat.

Jennifer Hein

Congotronics 3: Kasai Allstars
In the 7th Moon, the Chief Turned Into a Swimming Fish and Ate the Head of his Enemy by Magic
Crammed Discs

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In the 7th Moon, the Chief Turned Into a Swimming Fish and Ate the Head of his Enemy by Magic,” the debut full-length album from Kasai All-Stars, is an unabashedly raw, aggressive explosion of sound, soul and color. The third edition of the Congotronics series, its deep trances and winding rhythms tap into the primal essence of why music is a universal language.

The Kasai Allstars is a collective of twenty-five musicians from six bands and five tribes – the Luba, Sonye, Lulua, Tetela and Luntu – all of whom originally come from the Kasai region in the center of the Congo. Their music is drawn directly from ritual festive music played before the arrival of European colonizers and missionaries who found the highly erotic dances and pagan trance ceremonies satanic and unholy. The traditional musical practices were eventually banned pushing them to the brink of extinction. Even the actual traditional instruments all but disappeared.

Today the Kasai Allstars are reviving the practices, using acoustic instruments with electric guitars, distortion-laden thumb pianos (with DIY amplification) and soulful vocals; they have a sound unlike any other. Their ability to layer repetitive patterns and progressions builds a rich texture to create a powerfully rich composition. The album is almost underproduced, emphasizing the raw, uninhibited nature of the music. After appearing on Congotronics 2, the Kasai Allstars are making a very strong first impression on the international music scene with their first full-length release.

Marc Amigone

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