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Album Review: KOKOKO! – Fongola

1 July 2019 | 10:12 am | Guido Farnell

"[P]lenty of raw grit and an exuberant energy pushes this album forward."

World music aficionados would already be aware of acts to have emerged from the Democratic Republic Of Congo's capital Kinshasa like Konono N°1, Mbongwana Star and the delightful Jupiter & Okwess. KOKOKO! are different in that they are more clearly focused on producing dance music. The collective brings together traditional polyrhythmic beats with the flourishes of hip hop. The mix is lo-fi with plenty of raw grit and an exuberant energy that pushes this album forward.

It sounds like KOKOKO! make music from whatever they can get their hands on which gives it an organic electro-acoustic vibe. French producer Debruit adds polish to the mix while framing everything within a slick European electronic aesthetic. Much of this album feels like improvisation edited into something tighter. Their traditional tribal chanting is updated to reflect more contemporary concerns. There’s also a euphoric post-punk bounce to many of these tunes that brings to mind ESG and the early days of Factory Records.