Don Kipper supercharge their Balkan and Mediterranean roots in these wonderfully original songs steeped in heavy electronic grooves, elastic disco basslines and splashes of psychedelic synth funk.
In the UK’s capital, a story of radical musical transformation is unfolding. This story is told by Don Kipper, a collective of musicians led by their mesmerising singer Dunja Botic. Their latest album, Always Can’t Go On Forever, is a powerful statement, a collection of urgent, original songs in English and Greek which together tell of how the band have stepped away from the traditional music of their roots and towards something fresh and unexpected; music taut with an intention to meet the moment. Their sound is an explosive fusion drawing equally from a constellation of dance musics emerging from across the Mediterranean, deeply rooted rural folk traditions, and a plethora of rhythms that have always powered the UK’s dancefloors. But, it’s also more than that, it’s a fierce commentary on the challenges that society faces today. From climate change to wealth inequality and myriad forms of prejudice, these songs serve as the band’s critical lens on many of the world's most pressing issues, and the radical transformation the band have undertaken is an embodiment of London's spirit - ever-evolving, diverse, and driven by a solidarity to transcend boundaries and borders.
The making of the album has been a real odyssey, as the band wrestled with both how to channel the influences they love and their desire to reach for something new and then unknown. In fact in this way they were also walking in the footsteps of some of their heroes, who had themselves explored the ways in which deeply rooted musics could be transformed in their time. Each member brought different influences to the table as the band sought to take their own steps along this trail. From the sinuous sounds of the Northern Greek region of Epirus in Truthful, to the Maghrebi-influenced vocals of Ya Leyli, the heavy organ boogie funk of Day to Day, the rock guitar playing marinated in the flavours of Greek folk, and finally the raucous disco-meets-afrobeat-meets-who-knows-what of Hot Tub’s tightly locked drum and bass, this album is a true collaborative project, each musician recognising a piece of their truth in each track.
Don Kipper believe the personal is the political, and this album is an expression of those values. Each member is a valued part of the team, striving to make an album that says not only where they’re coming from, but also where they’d like to go to, and that direction of travel is a vital part of the manifesto of the album. From the pair of instrumentals Hostile Environment and Utopia, that capture the dark of the UK’s abhorrent policies of the last decade to the light of a better, more inclusive future, to tracks such as Nani and In My Head that speak to the psychological strain of the contemporary moment on all of us, this is an album that doesn’t pull punches. The penultimate track, It’s Time, is perhaps the most explicit statement of the band’s manifesto, weaving together a soundscape of haunting vocals and soaring electric guitar lines to undergird a powerful diagnosis of our failures and perhaps even a possible path towards a more just society.
Always Can’t Go On Forever is a real journey. The story of a band intrepidly reaching out into unknown musical worlds, clear-eyed and passionate to make an album that really says something. Throughout, Don Kipper’s story doesn't rely on nostalgia for the past or exoticising places forever out of reach, this is a fresh sound that calls out to you and says, “Join Us, It’s Time.”