Afro-house was the starting point for London-based Afriquoi, a multinational and multigenerational bunch who’ve earned much approval for their classy, bespoke blend of pan-African motifs and European club production. Various releases have seen them bring in bits from all over both continents, but the new EP marks a more consequential shift for Afriquoi, now a sextet.
It’s the first recording for which the full band was in the studio at the same time, and as such, it feels like the nightclub is not necessarily the primary consideration anymore. “Ndeko Solo”, in its original form, seems better suited to a Sunday cruise in a sleek sportscar (presuming, of course, that the dear reader owns a Lamborghini or such). The remix affixed at the end of the EP, mind you, is fortified with Afrobeat brass and drum patterns.
There’s a more natural cohesion to the band’s playing together, and at the same time, the quality of their individual contributions are more perceptible. Jally Kebba Susso’s kora plucking and the guitar work of Fiston Lusambo (the elder “uncle” of the bunch and a veritable Congolese rumba star in his own right) are nimble and expressive, and lead singer Andre Espeut certainly holds his own. As do the beats and synths of their European counterparts Nico Bentley, Oli Cole, and djembe thumper André Marmot.
All to say that a DJ looking to light a dancefloor on fire might need to dig into their earlier catalogue, but if your preference in the moment is for memorable melodies, skilled musicianship, and a more substantial emotional resonance, now’s perhaps the time to check out the gifts that Afriquoi have to share.