aThe long-awaited debut album by London jazz collective Kokoroko offers a damp tranquility in what was once a joy and tranquility. That’s not to say that this mighty group of eight of hers doesn’t live up to the fray. This 15-track record is woven with disturbing sounds. War Dance’s staccato horns her blasts and electric guitar solos make Kokoroko the sharpest. On Something’s Going On, a nod to both Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, the band’s massive vocals assure listeners that ‘something’s going on’ . It sounds like the anthem in waiting that closes out the set. Led by trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Gray, Kokoroko is a borderless business. The band’s material Nigerian highlife, afrobeat, and afrobeat reflect a restless, diasporic make-up.
But there is an easygoing beauty to this music that evokes more redemption than anger. Some may find this record a little too clean. Tojo opens the album with great soul fanfare, and spacey electronics add more of his ’70s echoes. Kokoroko’s transition between London and Lagos is seamless and unabashedly beautiful on Dide O. The brass mood is more dreamy than enthusiastic. Kokoroko’s fundamental track, his 2018’s Abusey Junction, established the band as a pensive and elegant force. These strengths are reflected in songs such as his guitar-driven Home and lyrical album standout his Age of Ascent.