Sep 9, 2014

RhoDeo 1436 Roots


The orchestra is a real institution that accompanied the historic upheavals has lived in West Africa: the enthusiasm of the early years of independence, the Revolution, multi-party and liberalism before succumbing to Western hype in recent years thanks to the (re) discovery of their LPs, often recorded around a single microphone, now collectors. In Benin, the Poly-Rythmo grew up with and yéyés Hi Buddies assuming a fondness for James Brown , to whom he pays tribute version voodoo ...
As their name implies, the music relies on a blend of rhythmic percussive elements. It draws from the French heritage of Benin along with the influence of their anglophone neighbors like Nigeria and Ghana. These influences and rhythmic elements form the backdrop for varied styles they play, a mix ranging from afrobeat, highlife, jazz, soul, rhumba and latin music. Tracks are sung in either French or their native Fon tongue.  .... N'joy

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Founded by bandleader Malome Clement in the Benin coastal town of Cotonou in 1966 as Orchestre Poly-Disco, the band served up a heavy fusion of voodoo infused Afro-beat that, while indebted to their spiritual mentor Fela Kuti, provided Benin's residents with their own modernist soundtrack. Heavily infused with the ancient sacred rhythms that had maintained the Benin people's links to their Dahomey roots through years of colonial rule, this new music also drew on the youthful sounds emerging from both the Latin and African American diaspora.

It was a time of change both politically and culturally across West Africa and the psychedelic funk of the band perfectly suited the urgency and optimism of the times. During the late 60s, Benin produced a whole host of young wide-eyed bands (check Analog Africa's previous compilation African Scream Contest) dreaming of success but mostly destined to play scruffy bars and clubs. One such band was Daho Jazz, whose singer Vincent Ahehehinnou was lured into OPR by band members Bentho Gustave and Bernard 'Papignon' Zoundegnon, who were desperate to find a soul singer to compare with heroes like James Brown and Fela. It was a wise move as the singer would not only provide them with an incredible soulful voice but also become their lead songwriter until his departure in 1978.

While Benin at the turn of the 70s had more than enough bands to constitute a healthy scene, without a sponsor the economic realities meant music was always going to be a sideline for most young groups. Similarly, unless you could make it to the premier studios of Lagos in neighbouring Nigeria your chances of making a name for yourself outside of Benin were limited. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo's fortunes changed on both counts when local businessman and owner of the Albarika Record Store and associated label, Adissa Seidou took the band under his wing. After recording a 45 on Albarika the band set their sights further afield, and thanks to the financing and cross border contacts of Adissa found themselves in the same EMI studios in Lagos where Fela recorded so many of his groundbreaking LPs. And it was to these recordings that the band looked as they strove to release an LP of their own, realizing that a constant stream of 45s would only speak to their local fans in Benin.

Poly Rythmo almost died in oblivion and never return to the studios ...until in 2007 a French journalist, chasing the musicians in Cotonou for a broadcast on France Culture interview (and an article in Vibrations) ..Yet this magical orchestra cashed years without succumbing to political change, digital music or ego-tripesques heartbreak ... For over forty years, the Almighty Orchestre Poly Rythmo-standing and combines funk, soul, and afrobeat with the famous voodoo rhythms born on this small strip of land full of spirits ! Son of needles in voodoo, new instruments collected passports, visas are finally established, and here in August 2009 all the original members still alive convinced to take the path of Europe Group! On the agenda: the opening of Jazz à la Villette festival, the Barbican in London , the Paradiso in Amsterdam, etc ... The challenge is met beyond expectations and tours follow in 2010: USA, Canada, Brazil , England, Africa ... Etendard a country where the "voodoo"  has its holiday, the Poly-Rythmo has undoubtedly been blessed oracles to rise from the ashes and swarm around the world.

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From the Republic of Benin, West Africa, T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo is one of Africa’s least-known big-bands outside of their home country. Here, it’s hoped to redress the balance with a collection that reflects their many poly-rhythmic moods. The music features stellar bass lines, an amazing horn section (it's a ten-member band), inventive keyboards, and layers of thumping drums driving the beat. It's got Latin flavor & Tito Puente influences, but it is distinctly African.  A mixture of hard Afro-Funk, driving Afrobeat, deep Afro-Latin and Cuban grooves all with a unique flavor that ruled the dance-floors of 70’s urban Benin.

Contained here are never before heard tracks re-mastered and available for the first time outside of Africa since being originally issued on small vinyl presses that have long become extinct.

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo - The Kings Of Benin  (flac  338mb)

01 Aihe Ni Kpe We 7:10
02 Les Djos 3:38
03 Hwe Towe Hun 4:06
04 Gendamou Na Wili We Gnannin 6:10
05 Mi Si Ba To 4:59
06 Avoun Doupou Me Douga 3:27
07 Kokoriko 6:36
08 Ne Te Faches Pas 10:08
09 Kou Tche Kpo So O 3:12
10 Gbeto Vivi 5:43
11 Agnon Djidjo 7:49
12 Medida 2:55
13 Angelina II 3:29

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This is angular, punchy funk run through with vicious blasts of organ, and some of the finest oblique guitar riffs since Television. It's scary to consider that without the obsessive focus of label owner, Samy Ben Redjeb, this Benin band's music may never have seen the light of day again.

Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou - The Vodoun Effect  (flac  360mb)

01 Mi Homlan Dadalé 5:58
02 Assibavi 4:43
03 Se We Non Nan 5:04
04 Ako Ba Ho 3:34
05 Mi Ni Non Kpo 4:35
06 Se Tche We Djo Mon 4:11
07 Dis Moi La Verité 6:01
08 Nouessename 3:23
09 Iya Me Dji Ki Bi Ni 4:12
10 Akoue Tche We Gni Medjome 3:58
11 Nou De Ma Do Vo 3:33
12 Koutoulie 5:03
13 Kourougninda Wende 4:36
14 Mawa Mon Nou Mio 6:43

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Cotonou Club, has some of the bet-hedging one tends to see when musicians don’t trust what they’ve got — re-recordings of old material and guest stars. And what’s with the shortened name? That truncation extends to the song titles; “Dadje Voand it has a squiggly Minimoog, massed vocals, and a full horn section instead of the original’s spidery guitars responding to Pedro’s n O Von Non,” which they first recorded with the singer Gnonnas Pedro, is now “Von Vo Nono.” It moves a bit slower now giddy call. But different doesn’t mean bad; this version has gravitas as well as soul, and when they pick up the tempo and flow into a whooping vocal break, it’s clear that the Orchestre still has that hard-to-nail-down “it.” Likewise, its new version of “Gbeti Madjro” may not be quite so spacious and jittery, but it still hits it hard, and the energy in Clement’s lead vocal matches guest singer Angelique Kidjo’s.

The Orchestre still lives up to the Poly-Rythmo part of its name, taking the Congolese high-life groove of “Ma Vie” at a smoking sprint and mixing wah-wah funk guitar with salsa piano licks on “Koumi Dede.” The band doesn’t play like it wants your mercy; more like it wants you to dance, and if you don’t, it’s your loss. Still, Cotonou Club is not a perfect album. “Lion Is Burning,” which features two members of Franz Ferdinand, isn’t a total travesty, but with its sore-thumb slide guitar flourishes and over-buffed synths, it does feel like it walked in from another, lesser album. But it’s tucked at the end of the record, easy to avoid if you’re of a mind to do so.

Orchestre Poly Rythmo - Cotonou Club  (flac  320mb)

01 Ne Te Fâche Pas 4:39
02 Pardon 3:43
03 Von Vo Nono 3:52
04 Gbeti Madjro (Feat Angélique Kidjo) 2:47
05 Ocè 5:01
06 Koumi Dédé 4:00
07 Ma Vie 3:27
08 Mariage / C'est Lui Ou C'est Moi (Feat.Fatoumata Diawara) 5:00
09 Holonou 3:20
10 Tegbé 4:26
11 Lion Is Burning Feat.Franz Ferdinand 4:42

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Anonymous said...

Dear Rhoxs, could you please re-up Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou? Thank you very much and all the best! M

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the re-up! Great Music! M