pierre-kwenders-big-300x300While you could argue that Pierre Kwenders isn’t doing anything revolutionary, debut album Le Dernier Empereur Bantou orbits a pleasing postmodern aesthetic. The Congo-born, Montreal-based musician steeps the electronic vibes of his current Canadian surroundings in Congolese rumba rhythms to achieve a vivacious musical style. With the humble self-designation of “spokesman of modern Africa,” Kwenders defines his progressive sound as “Congolese rumba and Afro-electro beats.” Indeed, the multilingual Kwenders layers this sound with the “last emperor” motif alluded to in the album title — a postmodern, post-colonial stratus that pulsates with tracks like the anthemic “African Dream” (Look Mama/ I made it/ I’m living it/ I’m singing it/ Colours of the rainbow/ I swallowed it.” Tracks “Popolipo” and “Ali Boma Ye” (both featuring Samito) traverse similar musical colours and are clear bright spots. “Mami Wata” slows things down with a haunting Weeknd-esque tempo awkwardly authenticated by guest stars the Posterz dropping copious N-bombs throughout. But numbers like “Cadavere” and “Sorry” fully commit to the musical slant, electronic bleeps and bloops intertwined with African chants and sensibilities. Overall, Kwenders’ debut full-length is ambitious in scope and hits most of, if not all the right notes.

By Ryan B. Patrick