First Thoughts: M.Artz – Life

First Thoughts: KOKOKO! – Liboso

A group which has someone managed to miss my radar are KOKOKO! Channeling the alternative, vibrant energy of Kinshasa in to their music, KOKOKO! are group who hope to wash away African music’s label  being ‘World Music’, by making music which is truly reflective of Congo. The artistic vision and producer comes in the form of well-respected music producer; Debruit, who is known to blend synthetic sounds to instruments inspired from Africa and the Middle East. Building on the foundations of the KOKOKO! project are four lively musicians who add their authenticity through their ‘Punk’ style vocals, and psychedelic repetitive patterns crafted on self-designed string instruments and other percussive energetic inventions.

Watch below:

*This video is for promotional use only*

Just before the new year KOKOKO! brought their sound to UK independent record label; Transgressive, with their vivid 5-track EP titled; ‘Liboso’, which means ‘forward’. The journey into the diaspora and diversity of Kinshasa begins with the beautiful rhythmic patterns of the opening track; ‘Blvd Lumumba’, which is befittingly named after a road which leads into Kinshasa. Winding down from the exhilarating track; Azo Toke, is ‘Affaire A Mbongo’ meaning Money Problems, which has these incredible make-shift metallic sounding instruments which is indicative of Congolese culture, to make instruments out of anything. Bringing the EP to a close is the pulsating, radiating track; ‘Longola Ye Kupe‘, where the pounding drums, and bassline matches the energy and power of the lead vocalist; Makara Bianko.

Have a listen to EP and support the artists:

 

Maisha – There Is A Place

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There’s something beautifully enchanting and wistful around Maisha’s music. Channeling the spirit and rhythm of African highlife, Afrobeat, and combining that with the experimental nature of jazz to produce something which is deeply thought-provoking and pensive. Six members make up the spiritual jazz group, with the drummer Jake Long leading the team, along with some familiar members such as Nubuya Garcia on the saxophone, as well as Amané Suganami on the piano who you may recognise from solo projects of their own. In addition, joining them is Shirley Tettah on the guitar, Tim Dylan on the double bass, Tim Doyle and Yahael Carama-Onono on the percussion. Releasing their debut EP in 2016 with jazz: refreshed live recorded at the Royal Albert Hall, in three tracks spanning over 30 minutes the band made a perfect introduction to their sound. Their closing track titled; ‘A Night Trance’ captured my attention as the slow enduring build for each element to blend and fade among st one another created a wonderfully ethereal journey.

Those meditative patient builds are recaptured throughout their second EP release titled; ‘There Is A Place’. The free-flowing, unpredictability of the opening track ‘Osiris’ is jazz at its finest. Pure soul and feeling carries over nicely to the following track ‘Azure’. Side B elevates the mood and tempo, with the track ‘Eaglehurst Place’ finding influence from afrobeat rhythms. The underlying high and low pitched Congo drums build momentously in the following ‘Kaa’ creating an explosion of energy as the instruments begin to take over. Seemingly blending into one track is there transition to the closing track ‘’, which has Amane Suganami on the piano at the center of the whole composition, with his dynamic change of pace of keys allows for a contemplative closing track.

Have a listen to the full EP below and support the musicians:

Joe Armon-Jones – Starting Today

South London based keyboardist; Joe Armon-Jones solo debut album has been a long time coming for the artist. A key player in London’s exciting jazz music scene, having already released two EPs as part of the Ezra collective which were released earlier this year and towards end of last year. Plus, the added features on several tracks and a co-produced album with Maxwell Orwin, it was only matter of time for this solo album

Joe Armon teased us prior to the release with the outstandingly exciting track ‘Starting Today’, which kicks off steadily with the persistent quick tempo bassline rift and kick seemingly taking inspiration from dance music’s’ repetition, which easily grabs your attention. Joe slightly reverbed radiating keyboard blissfully glides over the backing bassline and kick, along with Ashebar empowering lyrics also blessing the track throughout. Joe Armon debut album is a continuation of the elevating jazz he has been a part of in London. However, there’s also a great blend of dub and hip hip influence in the album,  with tracks such ‘Mollison Dub’ and ‘Ragify’, which overall highlight Joe Armons’s other interests outside the core focus of jazz. This is a defining opening album from Joe who aiming to carve his sound with jazz at it’s core along with influences from dub, reggae and hip hop.

 

First Thoughts: String Theory – Modularity

String Theory

Rhythm Section INTL ongoing quest to seek the newest talented producers continues with the release from Glaswegian duo, String theory. One half of the pair is Glasgow-based DJ and producer Peter Letton. The EP sees him collaborate with John Broomhall, an English composer with years of experience providing audio content for games and films, who also sits on the BAFTA Video Games Committee.

Opening strongly with the uplifting track titled; ‘Dirty high’, which sets the pace of their EP perfectly. To the backdrop of hats and kick, the sharp guitar bassline and playful piano melody come together to form the main bulk of the track, whilst tension is built with harsh synthesised strings phasing in and out throughout the track.

Following that, ‘Mr Tiger’ grabs your attention early with it’s heavy, quite alarming kick, and synthesised percussion elements creating a drumcode feel. However, once the guitar bassline begins to take over in sync with the echoing keyboard improvisation to form the melody, the technical skills again shine through in the track. Creating a brilliant paradoxical feel with the contrasting mood of the kick and bassline.

However, the stand out track titled; ‘Con Moto’ quickly creates a strong impression as it progresses, with its jazz style kick and drums setting an abrasive energetic pace, along with the introduction of the modular synthesised bassline and guitar melody giving the house track an incredible musical – feel, which has been a theme throughout this EP. The closing track titled; ‘Lucidity’ takes you through a wistful journey of ambient warm synthesized melodies and complementing each other well and rounding off the EP nicely.An impressive debut EP from String theory, and I’m exciting for more to come!

Check out the EP below: