Published Nov 28, 2014Verckys is the nickname of bandleader/multi-instrumentalist Georges Kiamuangana Mateta, one of the Congo's most popular musicians of the '70s. He cut his teeth in Franco Luambo's legendary OK Jazz, prior to going his own way by forming Orchestre Veve in 1969. As the title of this new compilation of their work suggests, their sound was a highly varied one (the claim of psychedelia is a stretch, though). Rumba, soukous and Congolese merengue styles were often infused with shots of funk and jazz, while the scratchy guitar sounds, extended hypnotic grooves and male and female vocals of tracks like "Ya Nini" and "Nakomi Paralise" suggest the likes of King Sunny Ade.
Verckys' primary instrument is the saxophone and his robust playing is used to good effect, as on the raucous and funky party vibe of "Cheka Sana High." The funk-inflected tracks here work the best, showing why James Brown fell in love with OV during his famed 1974 Congo visit. The production values aren't always the highest, and the overly-trebly keyboards on "Oui Verckys" and high-pitched flute on "Matinda Comono" mar those tracks. Still, there's plenty to enjoy here. Word is that the long absent Verckys is now making a performing comeback in Europe. Let's hope he can be lured to North America, too. (Analog Africa)