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
The UK premiere of a fearsome beast in the jungle of late 20th-century music
Pivotal album by Norway’s veteran genre-smashers is restored to its original form
Congolese punk-trance leaves breathless human debris in its wake
Throat singing meets contemporary pop with compelling results
The soul sensation strikes a critical nerve
The Italian DJ, producer and musician lights up Soho with feel-good retro stylings
The best of the month's records
Magnificently garish live show is constantly on the edge of sensory overload
Bristol-born indie still not delivering the punch they promise
Marillion guitar man with an evocative, slow-burning solo
New album sees this rap artist moving forward both lyrically and with his crossover sound
Franco-Finn duo embrace electropop with unremarkable results