Orchestre Poly-rythmo De Cotonou - The Skeletal Essences of Afro Funk
- Stewart Smith
- 15 May 2013
The third compilation of vintage recordings from Benin's greatest dance band, The Skeletal Essences of Afro Funk stands as a fitting tribute to founder Melome Clement, who died of a heart attack in December last year. His 'Ne Rien Voir, Dire, Entendre' opens proceedings in an explosion of parping Farfisa organ, heavy funk and relentless cowbell.
There's a Latin-American flavour to the infectious group-sung refrain, reflecting the rich mix of influences on 1970s African music. Yehoussi Leopold's 'Houzou Houzou Wa' carries the sweaty imprint of James Brown's funk, adding a grandstanding horn fanfare that sounds tailor-made for the entrance of a heavyweight boxing champion, while the heady Arabic melody of 'N'Goua' shimmies to a plump rhumba groove. Sounding like a distant cousin of the Stranglers' 'Golden Brown', the eerie organ riff of 'Karateka' represents the heady strain of West Africa psychedelia animated by Poly-Rythmo's awesome voodoo groove.