Future Pasts

01/02/2024Zurich’s Konkolo Orchestra Releases Sizzling 'Afroheat' Debut On Rocafort Records

From Zurich, Switzerland, of all places comes a fresh batch of afroheat to help get us through the winter season – which is admittedly mild here in Berlin at the moment. We nonetheless acknowledge the intent of Barcelona/Lausanne-based Rocafort Records to keep us upbeat in these trying times. Enter the Konkolo Orchestra, a project initiated by multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer Alexis Malefakis [also co-founder and drummer of The Anthronauts and, if our research isn't failing us, a studied ethnologist and Africa curator of the Ethnographic Museum at the University of Zurich] who has put together a joyous eight-tracker and an audible tip of the hat to the afrobeat and highlife legends of yesteryear, "musical innovators such as Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Tony Oladipo Allen, Ebo Taylor and many more." 

"Future Pasts" has the rear-view mirror in plain sight, while forging full steam ahead. Building on the palpable energy of the group's 2022-released lead single "Blue G." with its "warm, vibrant percussive motif" and South Africa's Nongoma on vocal duties, the remaining seven tracks are no less contagious. "Malefakis is hardly rewriting the afrobeat textbook here, but his production [is sure to charm listeners] with a confident mastery of the genre," marked by a "tight structure" and a wide array of clever, grooving arrangements and playful details. Adding a strong lineup of guest vocalists to the mix, the likes of the aformentioned Nongoma, Sir Frank Karikari (Ghana) and Kitio Batola (Congo) as well as Ghana's Eric Owusu (of Jembaa Groove fame) on percussion, just adds more fuel to the blazing fire – which you best believe is a good thing. 

All roads lead to the dance floor on this surefire debut, just follow the horns and "Count Your Blessings". No doubt, Konkolo Orchestra is cooking on "Future Pasts" and, quite simply, having fun with it!

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom