Saturday, 7 April 2018

Oliver! Freddy de Majunga - Degat Materiel (10 April 1992)

This track seems to subvert a number of my assumptions about how soukous music is structured.  Whereas many soukous selections start with a mix of riffs and licks before preceding into the long dance fade: King Kester Emeneya’s Ngonda is an outstanding example, Degat Materiel (Material Damage) starts off with a siren that seems to act as a call for all Africans, young and old - there’s a mewling baby somewhere in there too - to take to the dance floor and raise the roof, which the opening minute seems more than capable of achieving.  However, after the opening minute the track takes a number of different diversions including drum solos.  Perhaps reflecting the number of countries it calls out to along its way - Cameroon, Senegal, Reunion, Democratic Republic of Congo - then known by it’s more punchy name of Zaire.  It’s still a party record, but one which seems to have loftier ideas behind it.  A sort of prog-soukous if you like.

Should that seem nonsensical or a bore, don’t worry.  It’s as good a foot-tapper as the genre’s best offerings.  It also offers the intriguing thought of Freddy de Majunga, who bears more than a passing resemblance to former world snooker champion Joe Johnson, playing the track while wearing the jacket he wore on the cover of the eponymous 1991 album that this track was taken from.  At the very least, I hope he asked the stylist whether he could take it home with him so he could try and one-up Lucien Bokilo.

Video courtesy of soukousnostalgie.

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