Voodoo Gang

Return of the Turtle: Old & New Songs from Africa

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African rhythms, native instruments, and mesmerizing chanting characterize the nine selections constituting this short recording, which was not released until more than a decade after it was produced. The three brothers from Cameroon who constitute the Voodoo-Gang are joined by two colleagues, Thomas Akuru and Andreas Möhring, each of whom add depth with extra percussion. The group sound incorporates a variety of elements, including a touch of jazz, pop, and indigenous rhythms. The drums and percussion are the most impressive parts, creating a transcendental feel that soothes the soul. Close your eyes, relax, and take in the repetitive, enchanting, and captivating sounds. The male vocals, in unison and solo, are catchy and exotic enough to feed visions of ancient times while capturing the present with modern harmonies. The opening "Mbanda o Nga So" exemplifies a radical, almost free improvisation of the voices, though much of the album is more melodic, even soothing, and sometimes commercial-sounding. While there are no horns or traditional rhythmic instruments, the essence of song pervades, with the lyrics reproduced in the CD leaflet. Although this music is a long way from Western jazz, it shares an emotional intensity. Musical tools, such as tension, release, and syncopation, combine to create something that can be intriguing at times. The sounds may appear stereotypical of their ethnic origins, but a close listening refutes preconceived notions: There is a strong and attractive creative element that regularly permeates.

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