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Introducing Kenge Kenge
Review of Kenge Kenge CD

By Julius Timmerman
Posted Monday, September 17, 2007

Kenge Kenge play Kenyan Benga, a style that began around the Lake Victoria region, where Luo musicians, influenced by Congolese music, took to playing traditional music with electric instruments. It then took off all around East and Central African dance halls and clubs. Originally Kenge Kenge accompanied a choir but eventually they began doing their own thing, beginning with an orutu (one-stringed fiddle) and a nyangile (gong), before adding percussion, horn and flute.

The eight tracks are long, the shortest being just over 7 minutes. The Benga beat is held steady by the percussion, while the vocals are strong and harmonious, all embellished by the wind instruments. The music does have a driving tribal sound, with less Western influence than other contemporary African music, particularly West African. It’s very energetic, but the incessant fullness tends to be quite demanding, and many Western ears could find the chanting repetitive. This is one for serious students of African music, or those who just like to let their hair down to a raw traditional African sound.


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Introducing Kenge Kenge