The bare bones of Benin voodoo groove: the Skeletal Essences of Afro Funk.

Author:Williams, Stephen
Position:MUSIC - Movie review

As John Lusk, reviewing this band for the BBC was to comment: "Following a path similar to that trodden by Senegal's Orchestra Baobab and Mali's Orchestre Super Rail Band, Poly-Rythmo have emerged from prolonged hibernation." Their sound is a soup of funk, soul, psychedelia and rumba, mixed up with a thick dose of heavy local rhythms and thrown into the Benin pot. The brew is then spiced up with hypnotic organ solos, gritty guitar riffs, distorted bass lines and warm horns, and results in an irrepressible dance sound.


Some people bang their heads, others tap their feet, and most feel the urgent need to get up and start shaking their hips. One thing is common, though, to everyone who listens to the mighty Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou: you simply cannot keep still.

Following two previous Poly-Rythmo collections released by multiple award-winning label Analog Africa, this third compilation, The Skeletal Essences of Afro Funk, is further proof that this legendary ensemble from Benin had one of the funkiest sounds the world has ever known. It is no surprise that they have been described as the 'DNA of voodoo groove'.

Starting in 2005, Samy Ben Redjeb, Analog Africa's founder and compiler, made several trips to Benin, where he dug up most of the orchestra's output, recorded between 1969 and 1983: hundreds of vinyl records and a few master tapes, no less than 500 songs. With such a wealth of material of astonishing richness, choosing the songs proved to be a tough task. Therefore, it seems only natural that it has taken a few years for this third volume to emerge from Analog Africa's sonic treasure trove.

Stunning sound quality

The 14 tracks presented here have never been issued outside of Africa and most of them follow the spirit and sound of the first volume, The Vodoun Effect, which was a selection of songs released by small and obscure labels from this tiny country, formerly known as Dahomey. Some of...

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