thu 25/07/2024

CD: KOKOKO! - Fongola | reviews, news & interviews

CD: KOKOKO! - Fongola

CD: KOKOKO! - Fongola

The Kinshasa collective who turn landfill into floor-fillers

This debut is the best collaboration between a French producer and African musicians since Yves Wernert got together with Malian ngoni player Issa Bagoyogo for a string of masterful fusion albums during the Noughties.

But his time around it was the electronica producer Débruit who was blessed by chance to encounter a bunch of inventive musicians in Kinshasa. Although "inventive" hardly covers it, because poverty dictated that KOKOKO! forged their instruments out of plastic water bottles and other garbage and junk. But don't let that put you off. A tight riff played on a one-stringed guitar constructed from an old bike brake and tin can, arguably drives a tune along more effectively than a Gibson Les Paul (due to the ear tuning into the edgy uniqueness of the sound).

The lyrics of these eleven songs tackle sorcery, magic, greed and corruption; a perfect match for the tense brutality of arrangements that seem entirely built from harsh noises rather than clean notes (such as the buzzy racket a faulty jack plug makes when plugged into a guitar), and yet add up to a multilayered sound more compelling in its rawness than anything else you'll hear this year. Debruit’s electronic beats don’t always sit perfectly with the organic forward roll of the live musicians, but this is a minor quibble and arguable a question of taste. What’s more important, is that his European sensibility brings retro-futuristic synth textures and melodies to the table, evocative of the best 1970s Kraut rock while also moving that aesthetic forward into the 21st century.

It should be noted that KOKOKO! are playing a number of festivals in Europe and the UK over the summer, so do try to catch them live. They have great onstage charisma and it really is the best way to fully appreciate the alchemy by which they’ve turned landfill into floor-fillers.

A multilayered sound more compelling in its rawness than anything else you'll hear this year


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters