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The artful dance music of Congolese collective Kokoko! manifests itself in a genre-averse mix of strange rhythms, lo-fi electronic textures, and relentless grooves all played on a variety of homemade instruments which the band created out of trash from the street and scrap materials. After coming together at a block party in the capital city of Kinshasa, the group began collaborating with French electronic producer Débruit to enhance their sound and began releasing a series of singles in 2017 and 2018 leading up to the release of their full-length debut, Fongola, in 2019. Although the collective also includes dancers and performance artists, the core of Kokoko! consists of enigmatic vocalist Makara Bianko and instrumentalists Dido Oweke, Boms Bomolo, and Love Lokombe, a trio of scrappy, inventive players who grew up together in the city's Ngwaka neighborhood. Lacking the money and resources to acquire proper instruments, the three friends began inventing their own unique noisemakers out of whatever was available. Single-string guitars were cobbled out of spare wood and tin cans, a vocal talk-box was wired out of an old cassette player, and various bottles, typewriters, and scraps of metal were fashioned into percussion instruments. When they paired up with Bianko and several other local artists at a street party, they created a unique aesthetic that reflected the gritty and politically tumultuous climate of one of Africa's largest cities. When Frenchman Débruit entered the picture, he helped produce the band's sound in the studio, adding an electronic flair and joining Kokoko! as its fifth member. They released their first single, "Tongos'a" in 2017 and followed up with additional tracks "Azo Toke" and "Liboso" over the next year. Their debut album, Fongola, was released globally by the Transgressive label in June 2019. A year later Kokoko! contributed a track called "Bim Bam Bam" to the online video game Grand Theft Auto: The Cayo Perico Heist and in 2021, they issued an all-instrumental mix of Fongola, which showcased their unique homemade instruments.
© Timothy Monger /TiVo
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