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Chouk Bwa and The Ångströmers — Vodou Alé
(Bandcamp no#, 2020, CD / LP / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-09-22

Vodou Alé Cover art

The Ångströmers are the Belgian production duo of Nicolas Esterle and Frédéric Alstadt, who also contribute dub electronics, minimalist sound design, and represent the Ångstrom records label, which specialize in world music collaborations. Chouk Bwa is a Haitian roots music ensemble in the mizik rasin style, intensely percussive with call-and-response vocals, a sound and style with deep African roots. The group consists of lead singer Jean Claude “Sambaton” Dorvil, backing singers Maloune Prévaly and Edèle “Sasufi” Joseph, plus traditional drums from Gomez “Djopipi” Henris, Sadrack “Mazaka Lakwa” Merzier, and Jean Rigaud Aimable, who also join in the chorus. The group also features two dancers, Edèle and Maloune, their dance movements relying on a deep knowledge of vodou rhythms in a dialog with the drummers, thus they are an integral part of the ensemble. The nine tracks on Vodoo Alé were recorded and produced by the Ångströmers in Brussels and in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the unusual collaboration resulting in a beautiful collision of ancient traditional Afro-Caribbean sounds and modern electronics, producing a powerful and swirling hypnotic percussive trance. The opening title tracks sets the stage with pounding rhythms and deep pulsing electronics, followed by the voices of the singers with additional electronic enhancements. Further into the set, “Rårå” opens with a whirlwind of multi-layered percussion and keeps driving it forward throughout its four-plus minute duration, one of the only cuts here that remains purely instrumental. A deep synthetic bass pulse introduces “Odjay – Nati Kongo” and underlies the powerful rhythms and call-and-response singing that powers the piece over the next four minutes. “Peleren” moves forward as a solo vocal piece with curious rumbling electronic sounds backing, like distant thunder. This set is very much traditional world music at its core, driven by the six-piece Chouk Bwa, The Angstromers adding textures and low-end power to the proceedings. Definitely something different for the intrepid music explorer.

Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): Chouk Bwa and The Ångströmers

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