31/05/2021Cologne's Muito Kaballa Power Ensemble Releases Grooving Debut Album On Rebel Up! Records

Last Friday marked release day for the much anticipated sophomore / debut album "Mamari" by afrobeat-inspired multi-instrumentalist and "punk provocateur" Niklas Mündemann's one-man show turned thrilling power ensemble Muito Kaballa from Cologne, Germany. We may have lost you there, so let's rewind, shall we? 

A few years back, answering to a surge of inspiration and a knack for improvisation, Niklas Mündemann went out and bought himself a loop station, essentially paving the way for his Muito Kaballa project. He began launching independent, guerilla-style street performances, literally parking his one-man soundsystem and performing on the fly

Quickly gaining momentum, he released his debut album "Everything is Broke" on German imprint Switchstance Recordings in 2019. Still a one-man band, Mündemann's debut offering featured a wide range of ideas and a healthy dose of experimentation, rooted in afrobeat and borrowing from jazz, funk, hiphop, reggae and "multifarious" popular music, presented in a punk-ish vein. 

However, he soon grew weary of performing alone and creating in a sort of vacuum. He sensed a rising urge to collaborate with other musicians, to explore new ideas and turn his Muito Kaballa venture into a full-grown band. Sharing his thoughts with fellow musician Jan Janzen, the two were quick to recruit what is now the Muito Kaballa Power Ensemble and get to work.

The newly assembled ensemble eventually travelled to southern Italy to record an album together at the Sudestudio in the province of Lecce. Tapping into their individual musical prowesses, the group began to bond and form an alluring amalgamate of sound, slowly but steadily giving way to eight enveloping tracks and, finally, this infectiously grooving full-length album, entitled "Mamari".

"When I first wrote 'Mamari', I wanted to create a song that I could play alone, while singing along to it. 'Mamari' is a song with a groove heart that moves forward fast and at the same time stumbles. Like riding a bike with bent wheels or the way camels move, which is called the pace gait, or in Arabic: Mamari," bass player Till Weise describes. 

Indeed the album's title track resembles the distinctive gait of a camel, characterised by a contemplative, swaying yet forward-trodding motion, sporadically igniting in colourful bursts of speed and musical ingenuity.  The single already inspired a brilliant remix by Rafael Aragon, heralding a forthcoming remix compilation to be launched at the end of June. 

Similarly, the album's second pre-released single "Curupira" alludes to a mythical forest creature, able to alert the forest's inhabitants in times of danger. It's a musical wake-up call, which the band employed to launch a fundraiser to support a rainforest reserve and climate protection initiative in Bahia, Brazil. This single, too, is accompanied by a highly combustible remix by Lee Bass (Gato Preto).

Releasing today on Belgian imprint Rebel Up! Records, the Muito Kaballa Power Ensemble's premiere offering is an upbeat gathering of free-spirited motifs and captivating grooves with an undeniable afrobeat drive to keep you on your two toes; a vibrant, horn-powered journey from start to finish that draws on and spreads some much needed positivity. To get your fix, you can buy/stream "Mamari" on Bandcamp and/or take a look behind the scenes in this 8-minute album making-of.

The band will be performing live at the Düsseldorf Festival on September 27th!

The Muito Kaballa Power Ensemble presents:
Till Weise (bass)
Benjamin Schneider  (guitar)
Marie Tjong-Ayong (flügelhorn)
Nora Beisel  (vocals, spoken word, percussion)
Tim von Malotki (baritone sax)
Leonard Gaab (congas & percussion)
André van der Heide (drums & percussion)
Jan Janzen (grand piano)
Niklas Mündemann (tenor sax)

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom