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Vodou Beat

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Album Review

This is some of the best Swedish-performed Haitian music you're likely to hear. Simbi is a collection of Swedish artists working partially under the banner of the Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs. The lyrics are sung entirely in Haitian Creole, with music following the course admirably. It's far from traditional Voudoun music here, but the basis of it all is in Voudoun. The influence is more properly the contemporary island music of the Caribbean, with touches of zouk and soca, among others. The opening track (sharing its name with the band and the Vodun loa of rain) busts out with a barrage of vocals and rhythms, admirably lending energy to the rest of the album. As it progresses, more similar music is presented, broken by "Fre O," a light smooth jazz number with a slight island feel. The pace picks itself back up with some help from resident sax guru Sten Kallman, and the group begins grooving their way back through the numbers, stretching into short a cappella runs and quicker basslines. "Nou Swaf" gives percussionist Tina Johannson a place to showcase some good chops on the berimbau underneath another blanket of smooth jazz, and "Pwazon Rat" keeps up a tight drum set and guitar lines almost reminiscent of soukous. Ending the album with an appeal to the loa of death, the group takes a more mellow approach with a good bit of sound effect tossed in for good measure. This isn't the Boukman Eksperyans, but it's in a similar vein of updating the Haitian repertoire. Give it a listen for the more unintentional effects of cross-cultural germination.

Biography

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s

A seven-piece group formed in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1987, featuring singers and musicians with varied experience in the Swedish music scene. Their sound is based on the ‘vodou’ rhythms of Haiti, onto which they graft elements of rock, funk and jazz and the soulful lead singer, Lotta Sjolin, sings in Haitian Creole. They soon became a popular local live attraction, also making appearances on Swedish television and radio. In 1991 they were invited to Haiti to participate in the 200th anniversary celebration...
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Vodou Beat, Simbi
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