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Akwaaba EP

Having enjoyed spell-binding performances from Fela Kuti’s son Seun and The Wailers at this year’s Glastonbury, I would normally save listening to such music for when it can be played live, with all its various theatrics. My opinion has since changed.

Enter K.O.G & The Zongo Brigade. Quite a mouthful, wouldn’t you say? If anything, their name is a reflection on the mishmash of genres, cultures, textures and instrumentation presented in this nine-piece’s debut live EP, Akwaaba, that packs a punch from the word go.

We are immediately thrown into the deep end of afro-rhythms and quick, syncopated vocals from front man Kwenu of Ghana, as the first track ‘Jabulani’ hits with character and a pulse that could only come from the heart of Africa. This is closely followed up by the reggae-influenced second track, ‘Moses’, that not only benefits from its oozing melody and crescendos, but its use of native tongue, giving the music passion and authenticity.

My only real criticism is track three, which quickly reverts back to the EP’s uptempo disposition but also includes a hip hop breakdown from a second vocalist. Although this is short-lived, it may be one of those things that should really only be saved for the stage.

But fear not, because the rest of the EP more than makes up for this. Pictures of Ghanian life are painted for us as Kwenu shouts “Motherland!” on ‘Heroes’. The EP goes out with a bang as ‘Franz Von Song’ adopts a catchy arpeggiated riff which will leave anyone desperate to see K.O.G & The Zongo Brigade tell their story live.

Tristan Shorrock

by Now Then Sheffield