Jupiter Bonkodji and his band Okwess International, collectively known as Jupiter Okwess, are the unparalleled leaders amongst the not-so-quietly vibrant musicians of the Democratic Republic of Congo. ‘The Dance of Jupiter,’ a film documenting Jupiter’s musical exploration was released in 2007 and he found himself raised to international recognition. On screen, we see his slender silhoutte exploring the various districts of Kinhasa, discovering artists unknown to the rest of the world.
“Today, we find many young groups continuing in my footsteps, dipping into our archives for inspiration; my mission is complete. If I disappeared today, I’ll have achieved my goal’’
Of course, Jupiter wasn’t about to disappear; he is poised for a fantastic career. In October 2011, he played Kinhasa to an audience of five thousand; in July of the same year, he was part of the the album created by Damon Albarn, of Blur and Gorillaz fame, ‘Kinhasa One Two,’ released in November 2011 through WARP.
Now he’s back with Kin Sonic, 4 years after the release of the exuberant Hotel Univers. Powered by Okwess International’s dazzling boosts and controlled crescendos, with a little help from Damon Albarn and Warren Ellis (of Nick Cave fame), Jupiter explores the immense wealth of traditional Congolese rhythms through which he filters the electrifying stridency of the rock inherited from his European past.
“Jupiter & Okwess Turn Congo Turbulence Into Ferocious Grooves”
Jon Pareles in New York Times
“There are musicians who follow the traditional styles of their country and those who create brand new ones, assembling together and evolving what their country has to offer. One of the best examples of the latter (not too densely populated) category is Jupiter Bokondji, founder and band leader of Jupiter & Okwess International, essentially one of the most original Congolese artists and creator of the so-called Bofenia rock.”
Marco Canepari in Rhythm Passport