Led by Makara Bianco and featuring production from prolific French producer débruit, KOKOKO! is a pioneering Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo-based DIY electronic collective inspired by a growing spirit of protest and unrest among Kinshasa’s young people, who have begun to either openly question centuries-old norms and taboos or openly denounce a society that they perceived as paralyzed by fear. In fact, the collective’s name literally means KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK! with the collective viewing themselves as the sound of a new generation boldly, loudly and defiantly banging on the doors and walls, and yelling “OUR TIME IS NOW!” The members of the collective operate in a wildly inventive DIY fashion, creating self-designed and self-made instruments from recycled junk and claptrap and building a recording studio out of old mattresses, found wood and a ping pong table. Fueled by the underlying notion that desperate survival fuels creativity, the collective’s sound as you’ll hear on “Tokoliana,” the title track of their recently released Tokoliana EP possesses an immediacy and urgency unlike anything I’ve heard in many years. And more important it’s a swaggering, exuberant, wildly forward-thinking sound that hints at psychedelia, disco, post-punk, hip-hop, reggae, retro-futuristic funk and traditional regional music but from a sweaty, post-apocalyptic future in which the ghetto and the club are one in the same.
Recently La Blogotheque invited the Congolese band to perform “Tokoliana” at Le Chateau Borely in Marseille, France — and it’s an incredible performance in one of the oddest settings I’ve seen in some time.