Kokoroko

“Before melody or harmony, there’s rhythm,” cites Sheila Maurice-Grey, the band leader of KOKOROKO, when speaking to Dele Sosimi about the musical structure of the late, great Fela Kuti. A profound statement that is reflected through the sonic depths of their hypnotically bracing new single, ‘Carry Me Home’. The track fittingly serves as an ode to the masterful Sosimi, whose technical ability in bridging the gap between the West African Afrobeat sound of his roots, and the London energy of his upbringing, has directly informed the ever-impressive capabilities demonstrated by London’s eight-piece afrobeat collective, KOKOROKO.

Maurice-Grey’s sharpened understanding and deeply perceptive admiration of those who came before us, combined with the band’s gritty London energy, combusts in the form of their new track; a rhythmic whirlwind, layered in wondrous segments of harmonic beauty, creating a sound that simultaneously balances the energetic dance-like qualities of their track, ‘Uman’, whilst offering elements of the introspective emotion felt in their soul-stirring joint, ‘Abusey Junction’. Dedicated, also, to Maurice-Grey’s late cousin, as well as percussionist Onome Edgeworth’s grandfather, the track’s interchanging vocals and brass breaks, propelled forward alongside the foundational percussion and bassline rhythms, make you want to dance until you cry.

From their release on Brownswood’s ‘We Out Here’ compilation two years ago, to their debut EP release in 2019; this last year has seen them progress from their memorable MOTH Club launch party, to over 80 shows around the world, recently selling out the Roundhouse for a special ‘In the Round’ gig. KOKOROKO’s technical brilliance and improvisational adventure, illuminated through their versatility structurally and sonically, are testament to not only how far they have come, but the distance they still have to travel.