[EN] Planet Ilunga is a Belgian vinyl label focusing on music that is at first sight untranslatable. It has a special interest for Congolese music of the 50s & 60s. Planet Ilunga specializes in archiving, documenting and sharing the “Rumba Lingala” sound from the fifties and sixties from both the Congos. In the following years, Planet Ilunga wants to contribute to restore the rich Congolese music archive, in the first place through high quality vinyl issues and extensive booklets.
[FR] Planet Ilunga est un label vinyle belge qui se concentre sur une musique à première vue intraduisible. Il a un intérêt particulier pour la musique congolaise des années 50 et 60. Planet Ilunga se spécialise dans l’archivage, la documentation et le partage du son “Rumba Lingala” des années 50 et 60 des deux Congos. Au cours des années suivantes, Planet Ilunga veut contineur à contribuer à la restauration des riches archives musicales congolaises, en premier lieu à travers des éditions de vinyle de haute qualité et des livrets.
PI 08: Franco & l’Orchestre O.K. Jazz – La Rumba de Mi Vida
Planet Ilunga continues to explore the monumental oeuvre of Congo’s most legendary band O.K. Jazz. This new compilation ‘La Rumba de mi Vida‘ displays the full extent to which O.K. Jazz and its bandleader Franco explored Congolese rumba in the sixties and early seventies. Each of the four sides on this double LP presents a different facet of O.K. Jazz. The songs presented on this album justify why Franco was (and still is) regarded as the greatest portraitist of Congolese society.
PI 07: O.K. Jazz – Pas Un Pas Sans – The Boleros of O.K. Jazz 1957-77:
After the double LPs ‘The Loningisa Years 1956-1961’ and ‘La Rumba de mi Vida’, released in 2017 and 2020, Planet Ilunga writes a third chapter in honoring the oeuvre of Congo’s most legendary band O.K. Jazz. This new compilation ‘Pas Un Pas Sans… The Boleros of O.K. Jazz 1957-77′ is a selection of songs from what is one of the most unique and passionate music genres on earth, the Congolese bolero.
Of all Congolese bands venturing into the bolero, the O.K. Jazz orchestra is by far the king of this musical style which originated in the late 19th century in Cuba. In its nearly forty years of existence, the illustrious band released dozens of boleros, with beautiful compositions, mainly by Franco and Vicky, and occasionally from Kwamy, Edo, Simarro and Mujos among others. The slow form of the bolero allowed Franco, who said in various interviews that he loved all forms of ‘slow music’, to express his most profound soul stirrings and create a style of his own. With the suave voice of Vicky and the breathtaking and dramatic guitar touch of Franco, O.K. Jazz was able to capture the true essence of the bolero. Franco’s passion for the bolero has certainly contributed to his nickname of ‘Franco de mi Amor’, especially among his female fans.
PI06: Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry presents Seskain Molenga & Kalo Kawongolo: Roots from the Congo
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.
The album which Congolese artists Seskain Molenga (African Fiesta National, Empire 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...
PI 05: OK Jazz / KO Jazz: Luvumbu Nodki – Ludiata Nangwi
After the double LP compilations Planet Ilunga presents the first record in the new ’45 rpm series’ on the label. On the A-side we find the traditional song ‘Luvumbu Ndoki‘, modernized and arranged by Franco (O.K. Jazz) in 1966. With its implicit Kikongo lyrics implying a criticism of the regime, it was Franco at his best. On the flip side we hear the previously unreleased song ‘Ludiata Nangwi’ which has its roots in the Situationist International movement. This song was recorded, arranged and mixed in Kinshasa in 2015, more specifically at Un Deux Trois, Franco’s nightclub which is now run by his son Yves Luambo Emongo. The musical direction of the song was provided by producer Vincent Kenis, known for his work in the Congotronics series (Konono n°1 and Kasai Allstars) and as the compiler of three CDs on the early music of O.K. Jazz. ‘Ludiata Nangwi’ had a prominent role in the audiovisual work ‘One.Two.Three’, part of the exhibition ‘Personne et les autres’ that was created by Vincent Meessen for the Belgian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale.
PI 04: Docteur Nico – Dieu de la Guitare
The Congo has given us many excellent guitar players, but only one of them earned the nickname ‘Dieu de la Guitare’. With this new compilation, made in collaboration with Ignace Mukendi (Comite de gestion des œuvres musicales de Docteur Nico) and the children of Docteur Nico, Planet Ilunga recalls the life and musical career of the legendary Congolese guitar player and band leader Docteur Nico.
For over 20 years, Nicolas Kasanda stood at the forefront of Congolese rumba. Backed through his whole career by his older brother Dechaud, Nico introduced numerous innovations to Congolese rumba such as a remarkable take on Dominican merengue, the use of the Hawaiian guitar, the introduction of new rhythms and dances such as the kiri-kiri and kono, and especially the shimmering, electrified modern versions of traditional tunes from his native Kasai.
PI 03: O.K. Jazz – The Loningisa Years 1956-1961
With this compilation Planet Ilunga goes back to the very early days of O.K. Jazz, founded in 1956 in Léopoldville and disbanded in 1993. During the late fifties O.K. Jazz was the home of outstanding musicians such as Franco, Vicky, De La Lune, Edo Nganga, Dessoin, Kouka Celestin, Isaac, Brazzos, Mujos and many others. Together they created an unique and hair-raising take on rumba, cha-cha-cha, calypso, merengue and the band’s favourite rhythm: the bolero
From June 1956 to August 1961 the band recorded 320 tracks for the 78 rpm music label Loningisa. Despite earlier efforts from labels such as Crammed Disc, RetroAfric and African (thank you!), there is still a large part of the Loningisa back catalogue that remains hidden from the public. That’s why Planet Ilunga associated with Yves Luambo Emongo (son of Franco) and Julien Rocky Longomba (son of Vicky) and compiled 32 O.K. Jazz songs that were recorded between 1956 and 1961. All songs on this compilation were originally released on 78 rpm records on the Loningisa label and most of the selected tracks were never reproduced after their original release.
PI 02: Various – Souvenirs from Esengo 1957-1961
With this compilation we delve into the back catalogue of Esengo, one of the labels that operated in the former Leopoldville in the fifties. In a five-year time span (1957-1961) this publishing company – named after the Lingala word for ‘pleasure’ – released over 400 records, all issued on 78 rpm records. This compilation focuses on the recordings of two of the most important and earliest ensembles of Esengo: Rock-a-Mambo and l’African Jazz. Their recordings were characterized by a very melodic thinking and were often drenched in Afro-American rhythms. It resulted in an unparalleled joie de vivre, lots of pidgin Spanish and extremely danceable tunes.
PI 01: l’African Jazz – Souvenirs from the Congo
‘Souvenirs from the Congo’ is the first release on this newly formed music label. Planet Ilunga releases will be all about music that touches you without initially understanding the singing. Music that is recognisable by its ambiance, while we can’t verbally relate to it due to the language barrier. With lyrics that often have double meaning or double entendres, only revealing their true meaning many years after the original recording and sometimes even never. The main language in most of the songs on this first compilation is Lingala, a relatively new language that is spoken in and around Kinshasa, but also in Congo-Brazzaville. It fits the rumba sound well. Occasionally we also hear echoes of Kikongo, Thsiluba, French and especially Spanish in these songs. Not only the Latin rhythms from the imported Cuban records sounded familiar to the Congolese musicians’ ears, so did the words. The Spanish phonetics were particularly close to their own language. Whether or not they understood the words, Congolese sometimes sang in Spanish, some even learned the basics and wrote their own songs with Spanish lyrics. Occasionally, singers playfully mixed languages, which led to new musical languages like Spangala. In an interview Franco from O.K. Jazz once said: «Well, nobody understood Spanish. Nevertheless, we took a dictionary and searched for words that would sound good and we used them regardless of their true meaning.»