Kokoko! - Fongola
Jul 8, 2019

I'd like to give a BIG shoutout to these hard-working African men for making the best album of this week! Before I delve further, I'd like to say that the success and origin story of Kokoko! is truly something inspiring! Basically, a group of childhood friends got together to form a band. However, without enough money to afford any proper instruments, they crafted junk they found on the streets into playable objects. With Fongola, you can really tell where this passion for music has taken them. Truly inspiring to see how music really brings people together and pushes people forward!

With the help of French electronic producer Débruit, Fongola is another studio album by Kokoko! that really takes advantage of the imaginary, improvisational sound that they once created with their junk instruments! Fongola is wild, creative, catchy, groovy, expansive and even politically charged! Granted, through the entire album, I had no clue what anyone was saying, so I wouldn't know what political themes this album explores. Either way, Fongola has its incredibly enjoyable moments, and its crazy and vibrant delivery definitely makes it stand out amongst more obscure foreign releases!

Fongola's musical style really isn't defined. The sounds and musical structure varies quite a bit from one track to another, most of the time. However, the strangely assembled parts of each track and exploration of musical ideas really does enhance the listening experience.

Fongola is a catchy, lo-fi experience that can get you dancing and moving your shoulders! Tracks 3, 4 and 5 are some standout tracks that really showcase the best out of creative African dance music. There's even some musical influences that you wouldn't expect from an album like this. The post-punk and afrobeat style that's presented sometimes give off mild Talking Heads vibes. On Malembe, there are moments that kinda remind me of some Middle-Eastern musical style?! This record really did catch me off-guard multiple times for its strange musical direction. The album also features a lot of strange, but hypnotic vocal effects from time to time.

This album also has an aggressive, youthful, and protest-music feel to it, especially in the first half! This is all pretty respectable, though Fongola may sometimes be off-putting for just how erratic and aggressive the delivery of these tracks may be. Sometimes, sudden chants intrude and disrupt the natural flow of a track. It's definitely a creative and artistic move on this album and I don't mind it. However, if you're just getting into this album, it may come off a bit obnoxious.

Definitely give this album a listen! If you're looking for some creative, fun, exciting, lo-fi and sometimes heart-pounding afrobeat music from the Congo, this is the album for you! Some of the electronic and more experimental elements can be a bit challenging and off-the wall so do keep that in mind, but overall, it's a cool album experience.
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