I.R.O.K: The Intergalactic Republic of Kongo – album review

I.R.O.K – The Intergalactic Republic of Kongo (Acid Bath Records)
CD / DL
Available 14 January 2013

I.R.O.K prepare to unleash their debut of ferocious futurist synth-driven, psychotropic Afro-punk.

I.R.O.K – The Intergalactic Republic of Kongo (Acid Bath Records)
CD / DL
Available 14 January 2013

I.R.O.K prepare to unleash their debut of ferocious futurist synth-driven, psychotropic Afro-punk.

Hooooraaaaayyyyyyyyyyy for guitars!

According to those fortunate enough to now be considering (making or trying to flog) a fifth, sixth or 12th album GUITARS ARE BACK IN TOWN!!! I’ve now reached the 532 “best new bands of 2013” mark and I don’t want to pour water on your fire out there but guess what – pretty much all of these bands have guitars. Which means they’ve never gone away.
This isn’t a new revelation. Even that band that the BBC seem keen on even though they sound like the Bangles have them. They’ve probably had them for years.

So, with all this in mind, I would now like to announce to all you out there thinking of forming a band in 2013 to go ahead because this must be all the proof one needs to realise that GUITARS MUST BE REALLY FUCKIN’ EASY TO PLAY. Just look at the list of all these new bands that are destined for great things already -and look what they have hung over their shoulders. Here’s a clue. Consonant, vowel, vowel, consonant, vowel, consonant, consonant (take my word for it, you don’t have to check this, I do know what I’m on about).

Yes folks, 2013, according to those in the know, is going to be the year of the six string thing and therefore that rumbling noise you hear every time you open your front door at the moment must be the sound of I.R.O.K quaking in their trainers.

I’m going to pretend that this album’s got loads of guitars on it now. Maybe it has. I can hear a lot of things that sound like guitars. I can hear things that sound like trumpets as well, and oil drums, steel drums, wooden drums, chocolate drums, dustbins, flutes , fizzy drink cans, pens, biscuits, armchairs (I’m making this up as I go along have you noticed?) bongos (I’ve seen these, so I do know that there are bongos on this album)…..but more to the point, does it really bloody matter what instrument has been used to make all our favourite tunes? Well, I suppose if you’re in the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain it may.

It was noted recently by some Idiot that I.R.O.K were a bit like ’80s punk rockers CRASS. Ok, it was slight tongue in cheek but reach out to track 10 “Worms from Mars” on this debut and you’ll appreciate what i’m on about as well as try to correct me in saying it probably sounds a bit more akin to Crass label mates “Flux of Pink Indians”.
Or DIRT. With quieter guitars (if, of course they are guitars). And a nice euphoric synthy bit in the middle that you can wave your arms in the air too. A bit like Orchestral Manouvres in the Dark – words I don’t EVER remembering ever having to have typed before on a keyboard.

And a lot of bleeps and bangs, and WOOoo…….oorrrp…..ps! and nice hard bass drums. This an album that’ll warm the cockles of the hearts of Prodigy fans that like a bit of shouting in their aural delights.


There’s also a fair few of these instrumental breaks scattered around this forty five minute debut that allow the listener to have a break in all the foot tapping and get their arms rotating around their heads. It’s the soundtrack perfect for a hot barmy evening to dance to as the sun goes down. Ideally somewhere exotic but personally I’d settle for my back garden.

It’s not all Prodigy influences that come out and slap you on the face though. Imagine what life would be like had Bowie got his finger out and embraced today’s technology, took a bag of MDMA and reinvented himself (again) …oh! that’d be “OO AA OO” which is far too clever for anything the man responsible for the laughing gnome would be able to do today (then as if by magic, at the end of typing this sentence he reappears and I remember he isn’t in his 20s anymore).

Imagine if the Rolling Stones took notice of the likes of me and realised that the best stuff they wrote was during the same time that we were all discovering punk rock in the late ’70s..and then they swallowed a bag of ….(oh they probably did anyway). OK what if the Jagger had got his Ableton manuals out and realised that he could make life easier for himself by ditching the rest of the band and pulling on those idea’s he had floating around at that time that bought us “Miss you” and “Respectable” ….if you squint and accept that at some point he’d have claimed there’d “always been an element of dance beats in his music…..” That would be I.R.O.K’s “Destroy”.

“Nightrunner” begins like Frankie goes to Hollywood’s “relax” – but gets swallowed up by a bucket load of distorted vocals and goes off somewhere more interesting than the disco floor. “All our children” is another of those tracks we’ll find ourselves dancing too one day and embracing the dancey, euphoric break in the middle in order to get our much needed breath back in order to find our shoes we lost somewhere in the melee and during opening track IWORK. This opening track is enough to make the listener jump into gear and prepare for what lies ahead as the dance floor intro suddenly bursts into a crash bang wallop that Slipknot and their ilk would be proud of and will mean we wont just be waving our hands in the air but punching it in delight.

I haven’t even mentioned “Earthy Girls” which will be your favourite track on the whole album and one that’ll turn the dance floor into a mosh pit just by the press of a button.

I.R.O.K are the dance band with a lot of what we thought Kasabian might have been capable of before going up (or down) that road named “rock”.

They come across genius yet unhinged. That’s a compliment, trust me. Definitely not an album to get bored of. I.R.O.K’s secret is to make those repetitive beats more interesting by changing the instrumentation that makes it all happen pretty much every couple of bars.

If Japanese mentalists BOREDOMS made dance music i’d like to think this is what it would sound like. We’re only a dozen or so days into 2013 and I’ve got my first album of the year contender. Let’s dance!

All words by Keith Goldhanger. You can read more from Keith on LTW here.

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