Today, UK instrumental trio GoGo Penguin released “ Kora,” the second single from their upcoming self-titled album. GoGoPenguin, the band’s sixth full-length and their third album for Blue Note, has moved back to a June 5 release date.
Kora is named for the remarkable African stringed instrument, GoGo Penguin’s Chris Illingworth explains:
People often ask us where we get our inspiration from when writing new music. The reality is you never know where it might come from, it’s best just to keep your eyes and ears open and then you’re ready for it. Kora is a good example of this. There’s a guy who often sits in Piccadilly Gardens, day after day, who plays the kora for hours. It’s an incredible sound. Considering how loud and chaotic it can be around there, you can hear his music so clearly. You’ll see people stop and watch for a while, it’s difficult not to as it’s so beautiful. I’ve tried approaching the piano in different ways like emulating synths or translating guitar patterns to the keyboard. Hearing this guy and other great kora players like Toumani Diabaté inspired me to try some kora patterns on the piano and this, in turn, became part of the inspiration for this track.
The Manchester, England trio have fielded rave reviews for inspiration and originality at every turn since 2013, when they settled on their dream line-up of Chris Illingworth (piano), Rob Turner (drums) and Nick Blacka (bass). They won the Mercury Prize for album of the year in 2014 and have enjoyed a success matched by precious few vocal-free groups post-millennium.
GoGo Penguin’s music has always defied categorization. In their sound, there have been traces of latter-day developments in jazz, such as Sweden’s free-thinking Esbjörn Svensson Trio (aka EST), or minimalist classical composers like Steve Reich, John Adams, even Erik Satie. Yet, all in their mid-30’s, you can hear that they have grown up in the golden age of electronica, with echoes ranging from rarefied techno (think Aphex Twin; Carl Craig’s Innerzone Orchestra), and the emotive melodies and crescendos of European house, through to Roni Size’s jazz-infused drum ‘n’ bass.
The self-titled work follows GoGo Penguin’s critically acclaimed 2018 album A Humdrum Star. The Washington Post called the full-length “the group’s most hypnotic recording yet,” while NPR brought them in to perform three songs from A Humdrum Star for a Tiny Desk Concert. In 2019, the trio released Ocean in a Drop: Music for Film. The EP drew inspiration from GGP’s celebrated live soundtrack for Godfrey Reggio’s 1982 cult doc Koyaanisqatsi, an original score that they’ve performed for audiences internationally.
Listen to ‘Kora’ – BELOW:
US TOUR DATES
June 12th – Los Angeles, CA – Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Cemetery
June 13th – San Francisco, CA – Miner Auditorium (SF Jazz)
June 15th – Portland, OR – Revolution Hall
June 16th – Seattle, WA – The Triple Door
June 18th – Saint Paul, MN – Ordway Music Theatre
June 20th – Chicago, IL – Constellation
June 21st – Chicago, IL – Constellation
June 22nd – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
June 24th – Washington, DC – The Hamilton live