Some albums travel in so many places that it becomes difficult to capture the essence of the record in writing. Some albums simply need to be experienced. Pierre Kwenders’ sophomore LP, MAKANDA at the End of Space, at the Beginning of Time, is one such album. MAKANDA is an engrossing journey from start to finish, constantly shifting but never losing its grip. This album is a huge step forward from his debut and a massive statement about Pierre Kwenders’ talent, creativity, and potential.
MAKANDA is an album of stark contrasts that Pierre Kwenders has managed to blend into a cohesive whole. It merges African music, hip hop, pop, and pure groove into an album that is at once dark, intense, beautiful and joyful. The ethereal opening track throws the listener into a dreamlike sequence. From that point, the album flows from one feeling to another, never returning to ground which has already been covered. Somehow, Pierre Kwenders makes each change in direction seem like the only place the music could possibly have gone.
Pierre Kwenders’ rich, multilingual vocals are an evolution in and of themselves. Whether he employs all the rhythmic complexity of rap or a singing voice that effortlessly moves from haunting to soaring, he always has another technique up his sleeve. As if his own voice were not enough, MAKANDA includes a host of talented featured vocalists which each bring their own colour to the album.
The lush, layered production on MAKANDA . Pulsing electronic beats, deft, treble-heavy guitar lines, and the warm tones of saxophones and trumpets all blend together to create deeply multifaceted songs. There is truly an embarrassment of riches in the textures of this record.
MAKANDA at the End of Space, the Beginning of Time is now firmly placed in my favourite albums of 2017, and has established Pierre Kwenders as a musical force. I cannot wait to hear what he has in store for us in the future.