While most Westerners are most likely familiar with Afrobeat, Malian blues and several other genres that have hit European and American shores since the early 1970s, there’s actually a lesser known genre primarily based in the Western African nations of Togo and Benin called vaudou, named after both the culture and rituals that birthed it; in fact, part of vaudou rituals reportedly involve the use of characteristic lines sung to various divinities that differ wildly from everything one may hear in neighboring cultures. Sadly, many of the genre’s key figures including Poly-Rythmo of Cotonou, Dama Damawuzan, or El Rego have had their popularity confined to crate-digging and groove-obsessed Afro-groove and Afro-funk fans.
Lome, Togo-born and Lyon, France– based Peter Solo (lead vocals and guitar) stumbled upon this energetic Afro-funk and found a natural extension between vaudou and the blues, funk and R&B of James Brown, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and others. Solo then recruited Vicente Fritis (keys, backing vocals), Ghislain Paillard (sax, percussion and backing vocals), Guillhem Parguel (trombone, percussion, backing vocals), Jeremy Garcia (bass, backing vocals) and Hafid Zouaoui (drums, backing vocals) to complete his band Vaudou Game.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you’d know that I’m frequently multi-tasking while working on posts and it has lead to the serendipitous discovery of a handful of acts that I’ve written about — including the aforementioned Vaudou Game. Check out “Revolution,” the opening track off the band’s latest effort Kidayu, a single with an infectious and deep groove reminiscent of early 70s James Brown (think of “The Payback”), and Open and Close/Afrodesiac-era Fela Kuti and Pazy and the Black Hippies’ Wa Ho Ha with lyrics sung both in English and one of the local dialects spoken in Togo — while being equally politically charged.