Among the fruits of the convergence between African and Afro-American musicians, there is one lesser-known genre that hails from the cradle of vaudou culture in Togo, Benin, and whose key figures, Poly-Rythmo of Cotonou, Dama Damawuzan, or El Rego, have, since the 1970’s, had their popularity confined to afro-groove fans.
Specific to this region of Africa is the use, during vaudou rituals, of characteristic lines that fifer from everything one may hear in neighbouring cultures. The idea of integrating these haunting lines, sung in honour of the Divinities, to an energetic 70’s Afro-funk was an obvious extension in Peter Solo’s mind of the analogy he found between this vaudou tradition and trance inducers such as Blues, Funk, as well as the Rhythm ‘n’ Blues of James Brown, Otis Redding and Wilson Picket. Peter Solo heard this new sound coming through him and named it Vaudou Game.
Recorded in Lomé, Togo, at the legendary OTODI studio which had remained closed for 30 years until Vaudou Game restored it, ‘OTODI’ is the third album from Peter Solo and his merry men and the first to be recorded by the band in Togo (the previous 2 were recorded in France). Combining voodoo cultural traditions with Afrobeat rhythms and James Brown inspired funk, the band create an original, dynamic heavy groove that has to date, seen the band fire up audiences across 130 stages throughout Europe, Africa, America and Asia.
Born in Aného-Glidji, the birthplace of the Guin tribe and a major site of the Voodoo culture, Peter Solo was raised with this tradition’s values of respect for all forms of life and the environment. At an early age, he made a makeshift guitar, and his music propelled him into the spotlight, his undeniable talent earning the respect of renowned African artists. Mastering traditional percussion instruments, his desire to discover the world and to carry his practice forward led him to England, where he became immersed in gospel music and then eventually to France where he calls home today.
Since the release of their 2014 debut album ‘Apiafo’, Vaudou Game have gone from strength to strength, receiving critical acclaim from the UK press for their 2016 release ‘Kidayu’ and can count BBC Radio 6 Music’s Gilles Peterson as a fan.
The band are pleased to share the audio to ‘Anniversaire’, the first track taken from the album. The track is about the celebration of Peter’s stepmother’s birthday and is dedicated to all the women of the world.
VAUDOU GAME / ‘OTODI’
NEW ALBUM RELEASED 9TH NOVEMBER VIA HOT CASA RECORDS
Lyon-based voodoo men take the funky train to trance-central” MOJO
“Exuberant, tropical voodoo funk” Q
“Pulsating and mesmeric” BLUES & SOUL
“Vaudou Game have maintained a constant groove across the continents, infused with psychedelic Afrobeat, funk and Togolese traditional rhythms” SONGLINES
With ‘OTODI’, Vaudou Game serve it live and raw in true Afro-Funk style. Tracks like ‘Not Guilty’ and ‘Something Is Wrong’, both featuring vocalist Roger Damawuzan – the “James Brown from Lomé”, and ‘Tata fatiguée’ are pulsating and mesmeric and full of rhythmic feel.
With a new Togolese Rhythm Section laying down a tight bass and drums, the range of influences stretch across the big bands of Ethiopian Dance music to the rumbling Funk and Soul of the Civil Rights era. A string quartet and Les femmes de Digbodi Elavagnon, a traditional female devotional Voodoo choir, provide vocals on ‘Tassi’ while the dirty funk of ‘Grasse Mat’ sees Solo channel the ecstatic voodoo rituals, melodies and form of his upbringing with funky guitars, keyboards, bass, rhythms and counter rhythms.
Recorded using vintage instruments and material from the 70’s, the “grigris” (or lucky charms) proved to be the most effective way to ward off digital corruption of their music and return them to a tight-knit group. This invincible trance rhythm, inherited from James Brown and Fela, icons of Funk and Afrobeat, becomes trident when joined by Mawu, the creative voodoo divinity hidden in each of the group’s notes. This inspiration transcends their spirit of communion, plunges them deeply into Mother Earth and results in the telepathic trance which is directly connected to Solo’s native Togo.