Orchestre Poly-Rythmo – Cotonou Club

January 01, 1970

(Strut)

 

www.strut-records.com

 

From Benin,
West Africa, come Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo, a
collective whose history dates back to the late 1960s. The moniker ‘legendary’
doesn’t really do them justice: think more like National Institution. After a
down time the band reformed in the last few years with a mix of original and
newer members and finally fulfilled their long-held desire to tour outside of Africa. Interest in the band outside of Africa
was peaked by some reissues in the mid 2000s; Cotonou Club is
their first new recording in over twenty years, and features a mix of
rerecorded versions of some of their classic songs and some newer
material. 

 

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo play a
slinky blend of indigenous music from Benin
and West Africa, traditional highlife,
Afrobeat and their own take on American soul and funk, all filtered through the
perspective of guys who have spent decades in each others company. This
is, of course, dance music: marathon dance music, really. On Cotonou Club they sound ageless, vital and simultaneously contemporary and old-school,
turning out a joyful mix that will stand them well with fans both new and
old. 

 

It’s hard to really pick and
choose highlights from a collection that is strong and consistent from start to
finish, but “Pardon” ups the funk factor nicely, “Von Vo Nono” drops the pace
down to a sexy slow funk and “Koumi Dédé” ads an unexpected Latin piano riff
into the mix. Afrobeat star Angélique Kidjo sits in on “Gbeti Madjro,” as does
the Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara on  “C’est Lui Ou C’est Moi.” Bringing
this fully into the 21st century, Orchestre Poly-Rythmo fans Paul Thompson and
Nick McCarthy from Franz Ferdinand guest on the super-charged, electro funked
“Lion is Burning.” Kudos to them for having the good sense to hang in the
background and let the Poly-Rythmo pros do their thing without adding any
significant Anglo-ism to it. 

 

DOWNLOAD:  “Koumi Dédé,”
“Pardon,” “Von Vo Nono,” “Gbeti Madjro,” “C’est Lui Ou C’est Moi,” “Lion is
Burning.” CARL HANNI

 

Leave a Reply