Poetry, music, painting and a soundscape are brought together in this CD-book set to tell the story of three days in the life of a man in exile, Jean Tshisuaka. The listener-reader follows the trail of the young man, from Paris to Kinshasa, as he wanders through the two cities looking for his place in each of them. Taking us on this musical and pictorial walk, set against a background of exile, are the poet Apkass and the artist Bruce Clarke. This story is told in two parts, using two types of media.
On the one hand, a collection of illustrated poetry, in which the paintings of Bruce Clarke and the words of Apkass converse with each other to sketch the outline of Jean Tshisuaka and the urban landscapes he wanders through. The writing echoes the subtle brushstrokes of Bruce Clarke, which suggest more than they say, giving us something to think about rather than something to see. The painting doesn’t illustrate the poetry, it enriches and prolongs it. It reveals a dream-like aspect, but also a geological one, where forms and colours rise from the depths, layer after layer, the patient elaboration of a plastic language.
On the other hand, the sound, also in two forms. First of all, a soundscape, conceived as sound-writing embodying the two towns, the city of exile and the city of origin and return, through their noises and outbursts. It endeavours to seize, then reconstruct the geography of Paris and Kinshasa crossed by the steps and the tortured thoughts of Jean Tshisuaka. Thanks to the editing and arrangement of this sound creation, it adds a cinematographic dimension to the listener’s experience.
Interspersed with the soundscape is the music, the CD’s spirit. A string quartet, a brass section, percussion instruments, thirteen musicians and arrangements that build new bridges between jazz, soul music of the 1970s, afrobeat, reggae and hip hop, in a constant desire for hybridisation and coherence. Finally, the words, which have lain silent on the page until now, come to life.
Recited, chanted by Apkass to the rhythm of the music, they unfurl, driven by it. They tell the story of three decisive days in the life of Jean Tshisuaka. The last day in Paris, city of exile, marked by his decision to go home, and the first two days in Kinshasa, where he must be born anew and adapt once more to his hometown. The illusions of the immigrant faced with the principle of reality, the hopes of the prodigal child returning home... this could be the opposite journey to the one Abdelmalek Sayad describes in La double absence (The double absence).