Pierre Kwenders Festival de Musique Émergente, Rouyn-Noranda QC, August 31

Pierre Kwenders Festival de Musique Émergente, Rouyn-Noranda QC, August 31
Photo: Stephen McGill
8
Steeped in the ecstasy of revelry, Pierre Kwenders' music is blissful and free. Escapist isn't the word, but it ventures beyond the head-down, individual tedium of the capitalist life-world to dig into a globally minded collective consciousness instead. Noted for a multilingual approach that means songs jump around from English and French to a number of African dialects while Afrobeat, Congolese rumba and electro influences mix to form borderless pop, it's postmodern, postcolonial music that creates a liberated, celebratory zone where individual experiences can connect on a universal level.
 
Rolling through Rouyn-Noranda just days out from the release of his sophomore followup to 2014's Polaris-longlisted and Juno-nominated
La Dernier Empereur Bantou, Kwenders played the hits while teasing fans with some new material. So while old favourites like "Popolipo" and "Mardi Gras" elicited a sea of pogoing from a tight, giddy crowd, fans were more rapt as Kwenders moved about the stage in nuanced, expressive shuffles singing overtop the festive R&B grooves of new single "Sexus Plexus Nexus."
 
When Kwenders feels something, he digs all the way in. That's granted him a magnetism and one of the most singular, positive voices in Canada — and we're all better in his orbit.