Jupiter & Okwess International: Hotel Univers
Congolose group's international debut is an energetic update of traditional congolose rhythms and melodies with urban atmosphere
(Out Here Records)
From the same Kinshasa street scene which spawned Staff Benda Bilili, Jupiter & Okwess International offer an energetic update of traditional Congolese rhythms and melodies. Founded in 1990 by the charismatic Jupiter Bokondji, this is the group's international debut, and it has a slick, hotly recorded sound to suit.
As with Staff Benda Bilili, there's a strong rock and funk influence, with guitars up front alongside punchy horns and sinuous bass. The music reflects the bustling urban atmosphere, and 'Bapasi' (a field recording of Kinshasa traffic, complete with police sirens and roaring engines) sets off a funky blast of Shaft-style wah-wah guitar. 'The World is My Land (Deutschland)', sees Bokondji reflecting on his European experiences, and works some Konono No 1-style distorted kalimba into its roiling grooves. Best of the dance numbers is 'Margarita', a horn-laced anthem of the Congolese capital’s nightlife, while the reflective 'Congo' demonstrates the band's versatility.