Published Jul 16, 2018For his sophomore offering, Kinshasa born-and-based Jupiter Bokondji and his band Okwess have sparked the summer's finest conscious party. As the son of a diplomat, the "rebel general" (as Bokondji is known to bill himself) was exposed to American funk and soul while living in Germany, and left school at 17 to return to Kinshasa, connecting the dots between traditional Congolese rhythms and Western groove, with dashes of garage rock and psychedelic soul.
The result is an invigorating melange of socially conscious lyrics and irresistible dance-floor movers. "Hello" opens the set with dusty psych-funk, as Bokondji lets out a bellowing laugh and greets the listener in a multitude of languages, making good on his message of universal inclusiveness.
"Ofakombulo" and "Benanga" are relentless groovers, the latter featuring a playful vocal from Bokondji, and a rhythm that veers from spiky almost punk rebelliousness to fist pumping Afro-funk topped with spacy synths, giving it a modern lustre, while "Emikele Ngamo" is a joyous sing-along that transcends Kinshasa's well-documented troubles.
Damon Albarn and Warren Ellis of the Bad Seeds are distinguished guests, but with a juggernaut as powerful as Okwess (dig the supercharged "Ekombe") they're almost superfluous. Kin Sonic affirms Jupiter & Okwess as a major talent. (Everloving)