La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful
Year of Release: 2015
The half-Angolan, half-Congolese musician Yannick Ilunga (aka Petite Noir) has done something extraordinary with his debut La Vie Est Belle/ Life Is Beautiful; a towering achievement which blows out of the gate from the start and never falters. The self-professed pioneer of "noirwave"; an aesthetic which takes into account a rich tapestry of African rhythms mixed in with elements of 80s new wave, South African house, and anthemic indie rock, Ilunga never sounds unsure of his musical convictions. There's a genuine boldness, not to mention sonic complexity, to what he's doing here, and his sultry voice (which at times sounds like Byran Ferry, Ian Curtis, and David Bowie), meshes perfectly with the undulating compositions. This isn't simply "world music" filtered through a zeitgeist-chasing indie pop mold; but rather, a crucial cross-section of disparate influences all merging in dazzling fashion.