CD: KonKoma - KonKoma | New music reviews, news & interviews
CD: KonKoma - KonKoma
Afro-funk of the highest order from this London-based Ghanaian band
The strikingly clumsy cover (possibly designed by a 12-year-old boy with a rotring pen, a compass and a setsquare) is so amateurish that it just about tips over into being good, but it gives no indication of what the music therein might be like. So it came as something of a pleasant surprise that it was the most sophisticated, superbly played Afro-funk I’ve heard in the last year.
While Nigerian Afrobeat is arguably the main template for this London based Ghanaian band, the grooves are looser and more elastic than we are used to from that genre. There’s an agreeable amount of air flowing between the slivers of angular guitar, blasts of brass and intricate rush of percussion that delineates most of the tracks.
The relentlessness of pure Afrobeat can get a little wearing after a few 12-minute tracks, but because KonKoma have also subtly incorporated the influences of 1960s psychedelia and American blacksploitation-era soul there’s much more light and shade here. There’s also a real sense that the musicians are doing an awful lot of holding back, so that when the brass section does rear its head, the effect is dramatic and powerful. Producer Ben Kamdin has done an excellent job of both capturing the late 60s/early 70s vibe that’s clearly the main inspiration for these mostly veteran musicians, while also giving them a sound that's very much of the 21st century.
And just to show they have more than one trick up their sleeve, the album closes with the subtlest of ballads built around the dry, brittle sound of Jojo Yates’s gently plucked speprewa (Ghanaian harp). By contrast, Yates’s vocal soars with effortless grace. To end on such a quiet, intimate solo performance is an act of supreme confidence in keeping with the confidence displayed throughout.
Watch a short film about Konkoma
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more New music
It's music you've heard before, but it never sounded like this
Noisy Americans produce a feral blues masterpiece
Album number three from hip hop's controversial pop empress
A festive launch for our regular vinyl reviews
The album of the year was released TODAY? Better believe it...
John Grant’s past catches up with him
Amongst a plethora of whip-smart releases Nick Mulvey's debut wins out
Retro-futurist nostalgia proves a festive treat with the Human League
An open Swedish mind and well-tuned ear creates a Christmas soundtrack of sumptuous eclecticism
Jolly festive folk concert from Fairport Convention's annually recurring spin-off
What does Christmas with the funk legends sound like? Any other day…
Exclusive images from the Sing Blue Silver tour 30 years ago