15 Songs, 59 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Orchestre Super Borgou de Parakou were a groundbreaking Beninese pop outfit whose recordings blended the traditional melodies and rhythms of Benin’s Bariba and Dendi people with a wealth of unexpected musical styles including Ghanaian highlife, Congolese Afro-rumba, and American funk and soul. The group was founded by multi-instrumentalist Moussa Mama. He had learned his art at the feet of his father, a guitarist and bandleader who had founded Benin’s first highlife outfit, The Orchestre Sinpam. The group honed its chops by playing a nightly gig in the Congolaise, a Parakou nightspot that attracted a pan-African audience. By the time the group made its first recordings for the Albarika Store label in the early ‘70s, it was a fiercely disciplined musical unit, capable of riding complex rhythms to the point of hypnotic transcendence. The 15 tracks compiled on The Bariba Sound are uniformly excellent, from the ecstatic, chant-driven “Wegna’Nda M’Banza" to “Gandigui,” a demanding guitar workout that finds Moussa Mama twisting licks borrowed from American R&B into unexpected rhythmic shapes.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Orchestre Super Borgou de Parakou were a groundbreaking Beninese pop outfit whose recordings blended the traditional melodies and rhythms of Benin’s Bariba and Dendi people with a wealth of unexpected musical styles including Ghanaian highlife, Congolese Afro-rumba, and American funk and soul. The group was founded by multi-instrumentalist Moussa Mama. He had learned his art at the feet of his father, a guitarist and bandleader who had founded Benin’s first highlife outfit, The Orchestre Sinpam. The group honed its chops by playing a nightly gig in the Congolaise, a Parakou nightspot that attracted a pan-African audience. By the time the group made its first recordings for the Albarika Store label in the early ‘70s, it was a fiercely disciplined musical unit, capable of riding complex rhythms to the point of hypnotic transcendence. The 15 tracks compiled on The Bariba Sound are uniformly excellent, from the ecstatic, chant-driven “Wegna’Nda M’Banza" to “Gandigui,” a demanding guitar workout that finds Moussa Mama twisting licks borrowed from American R&B into unexpected rhythmic shapes.

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