Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou, Echos hypnotiques (From the Vaults of Albarika Store 1969-1979, Vol. 2)
The best and funkiest from Benin's finest
Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou were a largely local phenomenon during their '70s and '80s heyday, due largely to their location: Benin is a smallish African country, bordered on the east by Nigeria and with Ghana to the west. The larger nations' bustling musical scenes were far better distributed — but as you can hear from the first volume of their work, from 1972-75, and now this collection, covering a wider time span, Benin's finest were anybody's equal during their heyday.
Concentrating on material the band recorded for Cotonou's Albarika Store label, Volume Two showcases the band in better fidelity than on Volume One — the material was recorded at Lagos's EMI Studios — and in consistently top form. The catchiest number is "Zizi" — quick-footed and almost modest, but that hook is awfully difficult to remove from your head once it's planted there. The Latin-vodun cross-rhythms of a track like "Ma Dou Sou Nou Mio" — tambourine, shakers, rolling-and-tumbling conga and trap-kit snare — yield to a bass-and-drum breakdown Afrika Bambaataa would have given his People Records duplicates for, while the straight-up funk of "Noude Ma Gnin Tche De Me" sounds like side one, track one of a Beninese Ultimate Breaks & Beats collection.