Global album of the month – July

Kokoko! – Fongola

The musical culture of Kinshasa, capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has deep and tangled roots. Its experimentalism has long accompanied the country’s tumultuous political history, producing shapeshifting groups from the likes of 50-strong soukous funk outfit TPOK Jazz in the 1950s to the 1970s choral rumba group Zaiko Langa Langa and at one time the world’s only all-black orchestra, the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste. Consisting of their own changing collective of members, who number at least five, Kinshasa group Kokoko!continue this legacy with their debut album Fongola.

The band formed at a local block party in their Ngwaka neighbourhood in 2016 and were brought into the studio by French producer Débruit, who had made his name with four experimental albums that referenced Haitian hip-hop and Turkish folk. Thankfully, the recordings preserved their sense of spontaneity: their 2017 debut single Tokoliana combines snappy electronic percussion and pulsating kick drums with amorphous synths and vocals that veer from guttural refrains to stifled screams of joy.

Read the column in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 11/07/19]