Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry with Seskain Molenga & Kalo Kawongolo – Roots From The Congo LP

°° RELEASES 27 March 2020, open for orders on the Planet Ilunga shop page. °°

Congo meets Jamaica on this exceptional reggae album from the late seventies. Licensed from BMG and made in collaboration with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Seskain Molenga, and with liner notes by David Katz.

The Belgian labels Planet Ilunga, specializing in researching, documenting and releasing Congolese music from the fifties to seventies, and Roots Vibration, devoted to reissuing classic roots singles and albums, join forces for the first time. Together making one of the most enigmatic reggae albums available again. Recorded and produced in the late seventies at Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio in Kingston, Jamaica.

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The album that the Congolese artists Seskain Molenga (African Fiesta National, Orchestre Les Bakuba, TPOK Jazz…) and Kalo Kawongolo recorded together with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is a most remarkable project to surface from the Black Ark studio. It’s also one of the most misrepresented of Perry’s productions, with myriad explanations for its existence falling far short of what actually happened.

The intention of the original band, formed in France by the producer Bernadette Duget and composed of a mixture of Congolese, Senegalese and French musicians, was to head to Jamaica to record a rock album with African undercurrents in Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio. However, in Jamaica things didn’t go according to plan and the project turned out to be a failure. The Congolese duo Seskain Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo continued working with Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and this collaboration would eventually bear an unexpected reggae fruit. These recordings were originally released on LP in 1979 and re-released in 1991, yet the vinyl album remains highly sought-after.

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Now finally re-issued with extensive liner notes by the London-based journalist, author and reggae aficionado David Katz (assisted by Bart Cattaert for the interviews with Seskain Molenga). This reissue sheds more concerted light on the complex tale that lies behind the work. Most notably thanks to the emergence of new eyewitness accounts such as Seskain Molenga, Wasis Diop and Lee Perry.

The debut album by Seskain Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo remains a unique slice of musical ingenuity, an intoxicating sonic storm that resulted from their temporary presence at the magical space of the Black Ark. 

The sound recording and quality of the original album is a story on its own (you will be able to read about this in our liner notes). It was quite an odyssey to get the sound right, without losing the original energy and ambiance of the recordings. We think we made it, but we invite you to listen for yourself.

Tracklist:

1. African Roots
2. Bad Food
3. Moto Ya Motema
4. Mengieb
5. Nakoya
6. Guipimbu Gienu

Vinyl-only release
* LP comes in a gatefold album sleeve with extensive liner notes (in English)
* 180 gram vinyl
* Restored and remastered. Lacquer cut made by Michael Kuhn at Dubplates & Mastering
* Artwork by Fiona E. Oikonomidou
* Limited edition release


One comment

  1. I’m vert happy tout listen this sounds from another time. Thanks a lot, planetilunga. I’m a reggae singer from Congo Kinshasa. It was à fabulous experience with my elders Seskain Molenga ans Kalo Kawongolo at Lee Perry studios. Thanks.


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