Published Oct 21, 2020Pierre Kwenders has been known to allow every style of music he hears to influence his own. This is even more remarkable given the diversity of influence that would have entered his realm; he emigrated from Kinshasa to Montreal at the age of 16. French-Acadian, hip-hop and Congolese Catholic church music are just some of the many influences in his path. His latest project, Classe Tendresse, is a collaboration with Parisian musician Clément Bazin, who is equally in love with technology and the steelpan.
Classe Tendresse is an EP of four original songs. Taken together, the four songs form a story arc of a life cycle; "Sentiment," is a hopeful track that honours recently deceased African musicians DJ Arafat and Manu Dibango, while "Ego" is more cynical, "Ewolo" has a sound that conveys curiosity and "Complique" is a bit resigned. The EP also includes two additional versions of "Sentiment": a spacey-sounding Pedro de Linha remix and a percussion-heavy NoKliche remix. As well, there is a very techno-heavy Lazy Flow remix of "Ego."
The blending of traditional African melodies with post-human electronica is complete and seamless. In a sense, this is nothing new. All popular music is influenced by traditional African music and is impacted by advances in musical technology. What is interesting here is that it is not really a blend at all, as one cannot tease out traditional and electronic elements; this is traditional African music as heard through digital technology.
The collaboration of Kwenders and Bazin brings a crossroads of musical influence of diaspora and empire. The technology liberates the music from dependence on place. An important story of place is told in a manner that can be universally understood. (Bonsound)