ON a big video screen over the kitchen hatch at the LA Cafe in Admiralty an advert is flashed over the pictures. It announces a band playing that night. They are called Captain Mabulla. Four men come on and play a captivating set that would get everybody dancing if there was room. Their music is proficient, infectious and joyful. They are playing reggae. In 1993. In Hongkong. In just two months they have built up a following in the territory with gigs at the LA Cafe, Brown Sugar and The Wanch and at private functions. Tonight, they will be pumping out their rhythms at the LA Cafe from 10pm. Stir It Up, I Shot the Sheriff, No Woman No Cry sound just as fresh in their repertoire as when the songs were first released. The band don't just clone old numbers: they put their own feeling and invention into them, often stretching a three-minute songinto a 10-minute gem. As they develop, they compose more songs. Samba Reggae is a fusion of the energetic sounds of Central Africa that provides a killing finale to one set. The present balance of 30/70 between originals and covers will tilt in favour of the former, they say. ''We sit down two or three times a week and we say 'let's rehearse a song'. And we get halfway through and start making up two or three others,'' says percussionist William Tembo, a 31-year-old business consultant from Zambia. In the global village of Captain Mabulla he is joined by Canadian David Lundgren on drums, guitarist Mike Jonsson from Sweden and the ebullient Captain himself who refuses to give his real name. He dominates the conversation with the Rastafarian religion, the band's role as peace soldiers for the god Jah, his role as a guardian at the gates of Mount Zion and the defeat of Babylon. It is the religion of the slums of Jamaica where reggae was born but his sermonising carries a light touch. The one thing he is undoubtedly serious about is the music. ''In Africa we've been listening to Bob Marley and Peter Tosh and the others for a long time. We're carrying a message: the music we're doing is a positive music: love, peace and harmony. We don't need any trouble.'' He studied in Europe and formed Burning Ash with some fellow students, supporting UB40 and playing at the Reggae Sunsplash. Then he came to Hongkong, getting to know William, Mike and David through the close-knit musical community and involvement in the likes of Blue Wail, Signal 8 and Positive Vibration. The band have faith in their music and their popularity is growing but there are problems. ''We want to bring our message through the music but they [the radio stations] are not receptive. We're popular but we're not commercial. Reggae is popular because it's always talking about real life,'' says the Captain. ''We're very disappointed with the clubs,'' adds Mike. David the drummer continues: ''Entertainment managers - all they do is have lunch and talk to girls all day.'' A slight note of bitterness in the otherwise cool and easy attitude of the band. They've got their music, Rasta and a seemingly unlimited capacity to enjoy life. And they've cracked Hongkong, not a city known for its love of reggae. What is their appeal? William shrugs off the question. ''The music we play makes people happy,'' he says. It's as simple as that.