Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou Dahomey

Echos Hypnotiques, Vol. 2

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Take some Benin tradition -- namely the sato and sakpato rhythms -- then add heavy layers of electric soul and funk filtered through the prism of West Africa, and you have the sound of the music that Orchestre Poly-Rythmo recorded for Albarika Store during the 1970s. The basis of each of the 15 tracks here is a groove so solid you could walk on it (though you'd be more likely to dance) topped with horns and some deliciously wild guitar -- admittedly, not always in tune, but it doesn't matter, since the spirit of it shines long and loud. For the most part this is straight-ahead funk, but on "Zizi" there's a detour into the kind of Cuban rhythms that were in vogue throughout West Africa for several decades. The real centerpieces, however, are "Gan Tche Kpo" and "Mede Ma Gnin Messe," both over nine minutes long, giving everyone time to stretch out. The first is simply barely contained madness that never stops, while the latter is a serious workout for the horn section, which makes the most of it, trading licks and roaring off into solos. The original recordings might have been on fairly primitive equipment, but the sound is full (plenty of bass, and drumming that swings like the devil), and even the cheesy keyboard is appealing. It's an absolutely irresistible disc from start to finish, a slab of steaming grooves (and you have to love the wah-wah guitar that pushes the closer, "Minkou E So Non Moin").

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