26/04/2018Congo's Jupiter & Okwess Unleash A 'Furious Invitation To Dance'

This one has been a long time coming and by that we mean us featuring the amazing Jupiter & Okwess from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Now in his mid-50s, frontman Jean-Pierre Bokondji, aka Jupiter, has led his group to international acclaim, but arguably remains somewhat of an unsung hero.

Born in Kinshasa in 1963 (three years after Congo gained its independence from Belgium), Jupiter spent his formative years living in the Tanzanian Dar-es-Salam as well as in East Berlin, where his father was an attaché to the Congolese embassy. Returning to Congo at the age of 17, he "discovered the ultra-dominant Congolese rumba style, but also a multitude of other rhythms and styles that vegetate in the shadows of rumba, all strangely reminiscent of funk, soul and rock" and began to pursue a future in music, much to his father's dismay. And so, Bokondji left his family home and began living on the streets, where he claimed his nickname 'Jupiter'.

Fast forward to 2017, when Jupiter and his band Okwess (formerly Famous Black, then Bongo Folk), which means 'food' in the Kibunda language, released their versatile sophomore album on Glitterbeat Records, aided by the likes of Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz) on keyboard, Warren Ellis (Nick Cave's Bad Seeds) on violin and Massive Attack's Roberto del Naja, aka '3D', who contributed the album's stunning artwork: "'Kin Sonic' finds its voice in the exploration of a heritage that has remained totally hidden until now, and comes to take its place in a contemporary landscape where walls and borders are exploding in the face of men’s yearning to share moments of beauty and pure madness, all mixed up together."

Last Friday, the group released the brand new music video to their album track "Ekombe", "a furious invitation to dance" (The Guardian), which you can watch below.

Accompanying the ever so charismatic Jupiter are Montana (of Staff Benda Bilili) on drums and Yendé on bass, guitarists Eric and Richard and the singer Blaise. Click here to stream "Kin Sonic" in full.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom