Lo’Jo ‘Transe de Papier’ CD (Yotanka) 5/5

‘Transe de Papier’ marks the new album from the French musical collective Lo’Jo.

Founded in 1982 in Angers, France, by singer and keyboardist Denis Péan and violinist Richard Bourreau, the two have remained the core of Lo’Jo since the group’s inception. Over the course of Lo’Jo’s musical journey, their commitment to exploration – and in many ways discovery of how their music fits in and subsequently adapts to the world around them – has taken them to all corners of the world, having spent time and chalked up performances in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Vietnam, Georgia, Mali, Algeria, the Sahara, Turkey, Egypt and the Indian Ocean.

Much like the band have been accustomed to having adopted something of a nomadic lifestyle, so too has their music. Lo’Jo have become synonymous for their all-encompassing approach to their music and appreciation for a host of musical styles. Effortlessly incorporating elements of folk, jazz, Mediterranean and Balkan styles into their ever-evolving vision, their charm which has seen them endure for so many years, rests in their honest and sincere approach to music-making. Their seeming disinterest in striving for a greater level of notoriety, only striving to continually discover is nothing short of endearing.

‘Transe de Papier’ once again benefits from having long-term Lo’Jo producer and collaborator Justin Adams behind the boards. With his initial collaboration with Lo’Jo dating back to Sin Acabar (1996), Adams’s revered status as a guitarist and producer has seen his own music – whether released under his own name or released as part of the tireless variety of group projects and collaborations he has been associated with since the late 1980s – fuse together varying elements of Arabic and African styles into his compositions. Again, boundary-less concoctions that would no doubt have cemented an almost immediate union between the two.

‘Transe de Papier’ benefits from the inclusion of another incredibly revered – dare I say ‘iconic’ – presence in the form of drummer Tony Allen. For an album that boasts minimal drumming, opting to rely more on the percussive elements throughout, Allen’s appearances on album tracks ‘Jeudi D’octobre’ and ‘La Rue Passe’ make for cherished inclusions notwithstanding the fact that it was only earlier this year that the world lost what many believe to be the greatest drummer of all time.

Sisters Nadia and Yamina Nid el Mourid make for an invaluable contribution throughout the album – whether they are tasked with lead vocals or providing backing to Denis Péan, the magic that they bring to songs like the haunting ‘Sépale’ and the transcendent ‘Minuscule’ couldn’t be overstated.

Seventeen albums over 38 years is in of itself an outstanding achievement but the fact that, even after all this time, Lo’Jo still deliver to the standard presented on ‘Transe de Papier’ is inspirational.

Imran Mirza

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