Peder Mannerfelt - The Swedish Congo Record - Archives Intérieures


Peder Mannerfelt - The Swedish Congo Record - Archives Interieures - Music Review

It seems that the traditional drums of Africa are in the heart of Peder Mannerfelt. At least this can be inferred from his latest work, which is entitled “The Swedish Congo Record”. Mannerfelt is an avid collector of African tribal music and with this album he pays tribute to the cultural greatness of the continent too often treated with contempt or indifference by an ethnocentric white world. Archives Intérieures, i.e., the label led by Yves de Mey and Peter Van Hoesen, will be releasing the CD/Digital album on May, 2015.

Peder Mannerfelt has created a musical masterpiece. After last year’s debut LP “Lines Describing Circles” he has managed to record 24 astonishing tracks. Fresh, daring and always surprising, this work has an inspiring story behind it. It finds its roots in a 78 rpm record, put together by Belgian filmmaker Armand Denis, who was one of the first Europeans to capture the early sounds of Central Congo. Initially, Peder’s idea was to extract samples from those recordings in order to use them in other compositions. However, he eventually decided to recreate the album by using synthesizers only. With this goal in mind, he might have been stirring up the hornet’s nest, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Swedish tested the versatility of the instrument somehow the way Wendy Carlos once did with classical compositions on masterpieces such as “Switched-On Bach” or “Clockwork Orange OST”: the outcome is equally outstanding here. The songs sound strangely warm and familiar. The plethora of sounds and textures shall transport listeners to evocative landscapes and lively environments, to the roots of humankind. Also, the production effort behind it is one of a kind. On the one hand, the sounds he recreates are really attached to the original on songs like “Royal Watusi Orchestra 1 and 2”. Sometimes wooden instruments or drums are unbelievably identical. On the other hand, on some other tracks, such as “Batwa Pigmy Dance 1 and 2”, “Flagellation” or “Circumcision Atmosphere”, he offers a purely electronic structure, with a potential psychoactive effect on listeners. Without any kind of doubt, the sheer sonic impact and the unique sense of rhythm Mannerfelt is known for, which he skilfully deploys here, shall turn “The Swedish Congo Record” into a milestone of contemporary music.

All in all, “The Swedish Congo Record” is more than a mere experiment. As any original musical composition it is undoubtedly experimental, but it may be also an unintended tribute to the culture of Congolese tribes, as well as a critique on a dark violent passage in European history. With this sublime recreation of traditional sounds by modern means, Peder Mannerfelt invites listeners to go with him on an adventurous sonic journey to Central Congo. And yes, it began in Africa.


01. Bapere Dance
02. Bahuto Chant & Dances 1
03. Batwa Pigmy Dance 2
04. Royal Watusi Drums 3
05. Batwa Pigmy Dance 1
06. Omande
07. Xylophone at Lubero
08. Mambuti Pigmy Flutes
09. Batwa Pigmy Dance 3
10. Chief Karumi´s Dance
11. The Ceremonial Drums of Chief Kokonyange
12. Elephant Feast
13. Royal Watusi Drums 1
14. Pigmy´s of Kigali
15. Flagellation
16. Circumcision Dance
17. Kokonyange´s Dance
18. Humming
19. Bahuto Chant & Dances 2
20. Circumcision Atmosphere
21. Bahuto Chant & Dances 3
22. The Circumcision Bird
23. Stick Orchetstra
24. Royal Watusi Drums 2

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About Author

Armando Valdés, the man behind Secret Thirteen album reviews, is a translator, music journalist and a member of noise-ambient + spoken word band “Granny On Donkey”.

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