April 14, 2011

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo | Cotonou Club

ARTIST:  Orchestre Poly-Rythmo
TITLE:  Cotonou Club
LABEL:  Strut
REVIEW:  Le Tout-Puissant Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou (their full name) came to the attention of Western fans of African music over the last eight years through a remarkable series of reissues by the PAM, Soundway and Analog Africa labels.  Almost no one knew, however, that this legendary Beninois ensemble still existed and had a goal – to perform outside of Africa for the first time.  Not only has the band now toured the world, they went into a Paris studio and cut their first new recordings in over 20 years.  Poly-Rythmo was always an eclectic outfit, playing any and everything that listeners wanted, from salsa to Afrobeat to covers of American soul tunes – they backed up most of Benin’s best singer plus many of the international stars who came to Cotonou.  The core of their sound, however, has always come from indigenous rhythms (possibly related to ones used in voodoo ceremonies, there’s some dispute on this matter) that gives Poly-Rythmo’s funk a unique kind of asymmetry.  Like Senegal’s Orchestra Baobab and Guinea’s Bembeya Jazz before them, it’s hard to believe Poly-Rythmo can sounds this good two decades after their seminal recordings.  This band of grandfathers will kick your band’s ass – definitely one of 2011’s best.
REVIEWER:  Bill Lupoletti
TOP TRACKS:    1    2    3    5    11
ALSO RECOMMENDED:    4    6    7    8    9    10

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