Kasai Allstars, a Congolese collective comprising musicians, singers, and dancers from five different bands, were showcased on the Congotronics series released by the label Crammed Discs label. As with other Congotronics-associated acts, the group combines traditional rhythms, instrumentation, and dancing with electric guitars and distorted thumb pianos, resulting in a highly energetic fusion of old and modern styles. Through collaborations and remixes, the Allstars have worked with several indie rock and electronic artists, affording their music an expanded audience. They have also ventured into film work, starring in and writing music for the 2017 drama Félicité.
Based in Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kasai Allstars include musicians from the bands Luscombe Madimba, Tandjolo, Dibua Dietu, Basokin, and Masanka Sankayi, some of whom appeared on the 2006 collection Congotronics 2: Buzz'n'Rumble in the Urb'n'Jungle. Belgian producer Vincent Kenis urged members of these groups to form a supergroup, and Kasai Allstars made their full-length album debut in 2008 on the epically titled third installment of the Congotronics series, In the 7th Moon, the Chief Turned into a Swimming Fish and Ate the Head of His Enemy by Magic. In 2010, Crammed released the compilation Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers, which featured rock and indie artists such as Animal Collective, Deerhoof, and Juana Molina reworking, remixing, and reinterpreting tunes by Kasai Allstars, as well as their Congotronics peers Konono No 1. The collection led to a collaborative tour the following year, which found members of the Allstars performing at various festivals in a large group with some of the "rockers" who contributed to the compilation.
Some years would pass before the Allstars returned with a proper album of their own, collecting their powers again in 2014 for the expansive collection Beware the Fetish. Produced, recorded, and mixed by Congotronics founder Vincent Kenis, the sprawling album jammed more than 100 minutes into just 12 tracks. In 2017, Kasai Allstars starred in Félicité, a drama co-written and directed by Alain Gomis. They also wrote most of the film's music, aside from a selection of Arvo Pärt pieces performed by Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste. Crammed Discs released Around Félicité, which contained the film's score along with a bonus disc of remixes by Daedelus, Clap! Clap!, Africaine 808, and others. ~ Jason Birchmeier & Fred Thomas