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Kokoroko – Could We Be More – Full LP Review.

Kono Vidovic August 4, 2022 77 9 5


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At Dirty Disco we do not only like and cover electronic music. When you listen to our podcasts you’ll frequently hear matching music from all genres and subgenres. Not too long ago we covered Nu Genea – Bar Mediteraneo and here we are with a new in the same vein appropriate review on Kokoroko – Could We be More. 

Kokoroko

World famous but still debuting.

Having yet to release your debut record and already being world-famous, it’s something few artists or bands in the music world can do. Eight-piece afro-jazz and afrobeat group Kokoroko captured hearts with their 2019 ep Kokoroko, and especially its “Abusey Junction,” (that we played a lot in our sets) with their loungy, shuffling and tropical style. 

After that early success, the collective does wonder if “could we be more?” and calls the debut record Could We Be More. It’s all too easy to fall under the heading of “one hit wonder,” in an era where the offerings for our ears are greater than ever and attention to a band can come and go quickly. With some delay, Kokoroko is taking a shot at musical A-list status after all.

Kokoroko - Could We Be More

Pure braveness and daring music.

The group proved most recently while touring that as a collective it is enormously complete, but also explosive. However, it seems as if Kokoroko is less daring in the studio than on stage. 

The group pulled each other up piece by piece with pure bravado; be it with an authoritarian saxophone solo, a bassline heard far beyond the venue or tight percussion work; on Could We Be More the instrumentation tries to avoid the foreground like the plague. 

The fear of getting in each other’s way is clearly audible. The horns no longer try to raise the decibels, the percussion occasionally squeezes out a catchy, albeit modest, groove, and bass and guitar mainly form an anonymous duo.

The music on Kokoroko – Could We Be More.

The first few tracks, including “Tojo” attempt to take on cosmic proportions with their reverberating synths, strolling tempo, light motifs and subtle grooves. It waltzes sedately and cozily through your consciousness and is the kind of music that would make you pull out your Shazam app in a waiting room or store. There’s something about the casual, cozy grooves and tight percussion of songs like “Ewà Inú” and “Age of Ascent” that puts our musically reptilian brain in a trance. To what extent such a thing can be called enjoyable, it just as often shines through in brandless and identity-less pieces, like “Those Good Times,” for example.

Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti.

The first half of Could We Be More has that sedate pace and strong, but careful, interplay going for it. But once the second half deploys, with the generic “Those Good Times” and dreamy “Home,” that structure and pleasant flow is also somewhat lost. “Soul Searching” and “We Give Thanks” pull the schwung up a bit, but seem to be begging for an explosive hold that afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti’s discography is steeped in. “War Dance” finally offers that handholding, though it took nearly forty minutes of waiting for that point.

Modern London Jazz and Afrobeat vibes.

Kokoroko knows its craft, but at the intersection between their version of modern London jazz and afrobeat lies something that feels like less than the sum of its parts. Kokoroko identity, like fellow Londoners Sons of Kemet, lies not in the combative, but rather in the conversational and smooth. In doing so, it deprives itself of the reasoned drive and layered enthusiasm that concertgoers know they have.

Available on vinyl.

That the music is just a little too easy to digest is not necessarily the thorn in Could We Be More’s side. Something like this can work and does work more often than not in the first half, but the tendency to retreat to background music on Could We Be More is strong. Through apparent stage fright, the instrumentation undercuts itself, sucking the character and memorability out of something that could just as easily be enormously vibrant and catchy. 

Kokoroko – Could We Be More is available on vinyl and all other formats and platforms through this link.

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Kono Vidovic at Dirty Disco
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Kono Vidovic

DJ | MUSIC CURATOR & SELECTOR | PODCAST MAKER | BLOGGER Professional online interpreneur. Coffee practitioner. Electronic music culture maven. Total music guru. Infuriatingly humble problem solver. Food & sports fanatic.

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