Kokoko!’s ‘Buka Dansa’ Is an Analog Electronic Jam Fresh From the Congo: Exclusive


Since emerging from the Democratic Republic of the Congo last year, Kinshasa collective Kokoko! has been filling dance floors across the world with a kinetic, polyrhythmic style that mirrors the chaos and energy of their home country.

The seven-piece outfit was assembled by French futurist producer Débruit, whose projects have included in-depth collaborations with artists from Istanbul and Sudan. In Kokoko! you’ll find him standing in the back, blending subtle synths and loops as a kind of grout for the group’s aggressively DIY sound. The band, often sporting yellow jumpsuits, culls its signature sound from instruments made from recycled scrap materials -- engine parts, metal cans, empty dish soap bottles -- in lieu of access to traditional instruments and electronic equipment. The resulting spirit straddles techno, Congolese jazz, punk, and no wave, a bottled ingenuity that’s as galvanizing in the crowd as it is on your speakers.

“Buka Dansa” -- translated equally fittingly as “dance till it breaks” or “break the dance” -- is the latest dispatch from the group’s gripping debut album Fongola, rife with low bass hums, spark-like rhythms, and trance-inducing chants. Its video, premiering on Billboard Dance below, sees bandleader Dido Oweke waking up at home in Kinshasa, consumed by fantasies of success, support and hype that otherwise elude day-to-day life in the rough neighborhood that surrounds him.

The viewer is subsequently invited into Oweke’s daydream escape, beckoned to follow him into the party of his dreams. Once there, amidst the ecstatic rhythms, you’ll find yourself hard-pressed to leave.