KOKOKO!

Heads on Sticks 2018

The amount of fantastic music that made 2018 makes creating a playlist an arduous task. Originally totaling 50+ songs, the painful, gut-wrenching process of elimination to just 25 songs demonstrated just how many tracks there were I loved. This is no objective best of, but a purely subjective collation of the songs that sound tracked my year.

Honourable mentions include the power pop indie of Flasher, MAGA frat boys eaten alive by Pleasure Venom, vomit in your turn ups and piss stinking tales of broken Britain by Hotel Lux, Jarada tearing your face off with their brand of blistering Israeli hardcore, the haunted candle lit flickers of dungeon synth mage Old Tower, and the great return of industrial juggernaut Ministry, with AmeriKKKant being their best record since Animositisomina.

Here’s to the heroes of 2018, and here’s the songs which wooed me, wowed me, moved me, and smashed me in the face like a sledgehammer. Merry Christmas! 🎄

KOKOKO! ‘Liboso’

Kinshasa, the capital of Democratic Republic of the Congo, is where the party is right now. Protest and post-punk soundtrack the streets of Lingwala, recalling the no-wave iconoclasm from the ruins of late 70s New York.

Spearheading the new Congolese agit-punk movement is KOKOKO!, fronted by ‘Zagué’ force of nature Makara Bianko and production from French synth explorer débruit. Backed by DIY musicians from the Ngwaka neighbourhood, political tension and urban decay are channeled into a twisted concoction of off-kilter rhythms, found-junk instrumentation and gritty grooves.

Liboso, their first release with Transgressive Records, is another slice of psych-funk with fire in it’s belly. Opener ‘Blvd Lumumba’ is a slow creeper, an auditory finger beckoning you into their world, enticing you hypnotically against an urban aural landscape of clanging pots and broken glass. The fattest synth bass you’ve ever heard warbles aggressively on ‘Azo Toke’, cymbal claps and Arabic flavoured guitar picking builds to a minimalist and primal frenzy. ESG funk sets the tone on ‘Affaire A Mbongo’, a percussive stomper holding up Bianko’s powerful vocals. Kinshasa partner in crime Rachel Nyangombe features on ‘L.O.V.E’ (first heard on 2017’s Tokoliana), synths squeak and squeal against a fuzzy thud of  Nyangombe’s thumb on a live cable, with mysterious garbled voices instilling a touch of menace. Finale ‘Longola Ye Kupe’ ends on a punch of pure kinetics, a driving storm forcing you to dance into a fever.

Tearing down the old order needn’t be nihilistic. Art and music is a formidable asset in the revolutionaries arsenal, and with Liboso, KOKOKO! have delivered an EP that’s so exciting and full of ingenuity, it makes your soul dance, and challenges the consensus deeper than mere didactics ever could.