See: Moonshine – ‘Ginseng (Zaire Space Program: Act I)’: utopian Afrofunk where Congo meets Canada


LINKING together the musics, the aesthetics and traditions of Paris, Portugal and the the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pan-African collective Moonshine have dropped a brace of singles – “Malembe” and the deeply bassy, Afrofunk groove of “Ginseng (Zaire Space Program: Act I)”, which we’e concerned with here, featuring the Paris-African talents of Bamao Yende, in collaboration with Congolese-Montrealais producer, singer-songwriter and Moonshine co-founder Pierre Kwenders.

Both are out now on Toronto’s black-owned Foreseen imprint, bringing the global groove to Canada and beyond.

Pierre says of the complex, skipping, infectious groove of the track: “’Ginseng’ represents the kind of energy that really uplifts the performers in the music video.

“Bamao Yendé has such an intriguing way of starting the track, and within a minute the energy goes wild – he wants you to get up, enjoy life, have a breath of fresh air and a moment of pleasure.” And that dubby sax swirling in the distance around Francophone lyricism certainly brings delight.

The visuals for “Ginseng (Zaïre Space Program: Act I” were filmed with Congolese artist collective FARATA in a township of Kinshasa to depict the reality of life there, capturing the local response as the crew walk through the city donning vibrant costumes that weave together transformation and tradition. 

Both tracks link directly to Moonshine’s first pilgrimage to Congo, where Montréal-based collective members and Congolese artists collaborated on multiple projects and events, including a hybrid short film/documentary called Zaire Space Program, exploring the collective’s roots and the narratives that shape an African Utopia.   

We get to witness in these images the powerful language of percussive music, the ancestral language of traditional costumes in DRC, the social commentary the artists are making by using plastic and other discarded materials to create new forms of these costumes,” Pierre says.

“We see all these perspectives. The collective works together embracing the theory of Congolese utopia, which resonates with Moonshine’s Afro-utopian vision.”

Last month Boiler Room’s Collective TV broadcasted live from Kinshasa, featuring atmospheric sets from Pierre; the Congolese band, Kingongolo Kiniata, the Congolese Montrealais AKAntu and others; you can watch that set here.  

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