Covering 1973-1975 this is funk & sato from Benin’s obscure labels often recorded in the most basic of ways. This is music for the people, people who want to dance to this raw mix of horns, guitar, organ on a driving bedrock of bass and drums. It’s amazing where all this brilliant music keeps coming from but you end up wondering how you’ve not come across it before. Thanks AnalogAfrica – keep them coming.
Until recently Benin was a relatively unknown country from a musical perspective and our knowledge was restricted to present day diva Angelique Kidjo. However, during the 1970s independent labels released some sumptuous music and the first volume of a two-part series by enterprising UK label Analog Africa is devoted to one of the key bands of the era in Benin, Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou. Myriad influences come to play in this intoxicating mix, but elements of Nigerian juju and Afro-Beat, US funk and soul and Latin rhythms are all evident. However, the distinctive sound of Orchestre Poly-Rythmo is due to the voudous religious component in the form of the indigenous sato drums and the disonnant guitar riffs that are omnipresent on these recordings. Key tracks include the brass-laden ‘Se we non nan’, the juju-influenced ‘Assibari’ and the funk riffs on ‘Aho ba ho’. Weighing in at seventy-five minutes, this is an excellent value compilation of one of Africa’s least known bands.