Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Kenge Kenge

  • Introducing Kenge Kenge [Riverboat, 2007] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Introducing Kenge Kenge [Riverboat, 2007]
Formed in the '90s as the choral auxiliary of Kenya's hotel tax commission, evolved into a bastion of Luo gong and one-stringed violin with modern flute-horn-percussion attached, this is definitely Not a Pop Band. Yet modernity being the force it is, it's got way more presence and drive than the old Nairobi singles on John Storm Roberts's Before Benga collections, even the classic grooves on Trevor Horn's Kenya Dance Mania. Granted, eight tracks averaging eight or nine minutes can get samey. But that doesn't bother admirers of Konono No. 1, who they recall more than a little when that one-string gets going. These guys are more rustic and in tune with the world, and perhaps because they were a choir once, they can sing. But they make rhythmic noises you've never heard before, and they don't let up. A-