Album of the Day: KOKOROKO, “KOKOROKO”
By Jesse Bernard · March 21, 2019 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP

In the Nigerian dialect Urhobo, kokoroko means “be strong,” and the strength of this eight-member London-based band lies in their deft balance of sweeping horns, jittery guitar lines, and jubilant vocals. On their latest EP, the traditions of African musical luminaries like Fela Kuti and Ebo Taylor are carried on by their contemporary descendants, on four songs that create rich, colorful worlds of sound, and make a case for Afrobeat’s transatlantic connection.

Throughout the EP, Oscar Jerome’s graceful guitar leads serve as a complement to Sheila Maurice-Grey’s triumphant horn charts, and the songs swing between slow grooves (“Ti-de”) and steady rhythmic shuffle (“Uman”). Cassie Kinoshi and Richie Seivwright take a minimalist approach to vocals, using them mostly to punch up particularly simmering sections of songs like “Uman” and “Abusey Junction.” The band’s music is equally suited to an outdoor party on a late summer’s evening, or the inside of a darkened late-night jazz club; the slow crawl of guitar and steady, percolating rhythms gentle beckon two-steppers to the dancefloor, subtly nodding to the jazz and Afrobeat of the past while keeping its eyes fixed on the present.

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