Jupiter & Okwess: Kin Sonic
Order CD/LP/DL: https://goo.gl/CrXE7u
Release Date: July 7th, 2017
With their second album Kin Sonic, Jupiter and Okwess transcend the Congo’s unexplored musical heritage and dive into a pool of modernity. We’re invited to savour his latest recipe, the Okwess (‘food’ in the Kibunda language) which is the fruit of all the encounters and influences he has absorbed during his many journeys around the world. It’s a recipe based on perfect alchemy, enriched by contributions from Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz, violinist Warren Ellis of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds and Robert del Naja, aka ‘3D’, of Massive Attack.
A few years ago, the French actress and film director Sandrine Bonnaire came to Kinshasa and met Jupiter. She was already a total fan. It felt logical to invite her to read an extract from the book Bandoki (‘The Sorcerers’) by Zamenga Batukezanga, an African philosopher and author with a vivid writing style who though little known outside the Congo, was a familiar face in the neighbourhood of Lemba, where he lived and died in 2000. Accompanying the song ‘Le Temps Passé’ (‘Time Passed’), which was written by Okwess’ drummer Montana during his hours of romance and nostalgia, the extract implores the ancestors for help with the arduous task of educating children in the harsh reality of Congo’s challenging environment. In some ways, by delivering this message, Sandrine took on the role of Princess Rita, helper of the children of Lemba. “When you’ve travelled down many roads, you inevitably make plenty of false steps. What’s important is to never give up.”
To never give up…in this country where life expectancy hovers around 50 years. Thanks to the Congo’s immense natural resources, half a century of independence dedicated to the enrichment of a small handful of people and the impoverishment of everyone else followed on from a colonial era in which the seizure of natural wealth was the only rule. Just like the writing of Zamenga Batukezanga, Jupiter’s lyrics focus on this painful past, and how to overcome it. It’s a discourse in which the truth advances prudently, on tiptoe, thanks in no small part to the dangers that lie in wait for those who talk too much. That’s why Jupiter uses stories and parables to denounce injustice in the song ‘Bengai Yo’, or to mock a ‘king’ who’s extravagant with other people’s money in the song ‘Benanga’. This kind of prudence could also be called ‘diplomacy’, a concept with which the Bokondji family are only too familiar.
Produced by Marc-Antoine Moreau (Amadou & Mariam, Songhoy Blues) and François Gouverneur, 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.