KOKOKO! Share New Single & Video for “Motema Mabe” – New Album Out July 5 via Transgressive Records

June 14, 2024
Press shot credit: Xavier Thomas


Share New Single & Video for Motema Mabe”

New Album BUTU Out July 5

via Transgressive Records

Pioneers of Kinshasa’s sonic revolution, KOKOKO! are gearing up to release their highly anticipated second album, BUTU, next month on July 5 via Transgressive Records

Today they share a brand new single. “Motema Mabe” follows recent singles “Mokili”, “Salaka Bien” and “Bazo Banga” and the duo explain, “Motema Mabe is a track about someone imitating, appropriating someone else’s creations, style or charisma – which happens a lot in Kinshasa! It’s about karma getting back at people who can’t be original and claim things that they haven’t created. Make them pay!”. 

Another release that just hypnotises your world. Layers of bountiful beats and percussive pushes fill this mammoth landscape, joined with hooks, additional tweaks and textures and dominant lyrics / brooding vocal tones. Above all, KOKOKO! deliver another vivid arrangement destined to make you move.

The Congolese city’s after-dark buzz was the inspiration behind BUTU, which means ‘the night’ in Lingala, and the experimental record dives deep into the heart of the chaotic place, celebrating the joyful and creative spirit of its inhabitants. With vocalist Makara Bianko at the helm and production from Xavier Thomas, AKA Débruit, this follow-up to Fongola finds the group channelling a more electronic, upbeat sound. BUTU is a replication of the frenetic feel of that dynamic nightlife – equipment being pushed to its limit, via saturated and distorted speakers, or the sonic push and pull of sounds after dark.

Taking field recordings from the nights and using “ready-made percussion” such as detergent bottles, the band fed the sounds through distortion to get closer to those night sounds. Album intro “Butu Ezo Ya” opens with the screech of car horns progressively pitched into harmony and the chatter of pedestrians. “Compared to Fongola, this album is intentionally way more intense, because it’s quite upbeat and quite full-on,” Thomas says. The record’s influences are also wider and span West Africa and South Africa, kuduro and kwaito and since Bianko’s global travel introduced him to new types of alternative electronic music and punk.

A track they’d played live but never recorded until now, “Mokili” expresses a sense of pride in going out there to make the world move alongside old house music references. “Salaka Bien” makes use of percussion created on heavy ceramic pots and pans, with Bianko’s lyrics firing up the audience with a sexual wink. “Motema Mabe” started off as an improvisation from Bianko, with him vocaling a looping rhythm and synths.

The band has a fiercely activist and political slant. The Democratic Republic of Congo continues to experience serious human rights violations, including mass killings in the context of armed conflict and inter-communal violence, a crackdown on dissent and ill-treatment of detainees. People from regions affected by armed conflict are particularly affected amid mass displacement and a deepening humanitarian crisis. The DRC’s wealth of natural resources are routinely taken advantage of by large tech companies, helping fuel conflict in the region.

Political protest using words carries a risk of imprisonment in the country, so street performers often work with their bodies and sounds to signal their critiques. With BUTU, KOKOKO! provide a resistant, punk-like energy, bottling the attitude of a generation and bringing their DRC block party alchemy to new global heights.

1. Butu Ezo Ya

2. Bazo Banga

3. Donne Moi

4. Motema Mabe

5. Mokili

6. Mokolo Likambu

7. Kidoka

8. Motoki

9. Telema

10. Nasala Nini

11. Elingi Biso Te

12. Salaka Bien

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