What does Chouk Bwa & The Ångstromers sound like?
Haitian voodoo polyrhythms meets dancefloor dub.
The review of Chouk Bwa & The Ångstromers – Ayiti Kongo Dub #1
I am a huge fan of cross genres and music being taken out of one genre and delivered in an amped up or reconstructed way. Chouk Bwa & The Ångstromers do this by merging polyrhythms and vocal call and response chants from the Caribbean with some extremely aggressive bass-driven dubs and electronica. Their debut album was superb and to bridge the gap between that and their forthcoming album in 2023, “Ayiti Kongo Dub #1” offers a targetted visceral rite of passage.
Chouk Bwa are a large collective and this release sees a stripped-down return to focus on the Haitian kongo rite. Less vocal and melodic instrumentation is present here. Instead, the focus is on creating an aggressive trance that speeds up like a whirlwind of fierce emotion. Each of the three tracks on the EP hit the ground running, kicking off a mix of kongo drums, some of which are then electronically distorted. The bass dub is hard and pointed. Between the peaking drums that distort and crackle and the bass smacking you around the face, you have no time for breath. Over the top Gomez (Djopipi) Henris sings his heart out like a man possessed. It feels ceremonial to its core because it is. Add in a few distortion and reverb effects to accentuate the beats and some of the improvisational moves of the traditional drums and you have a transcendent experience.
“Ayiyi Kongo Dub #1” is markedly different from their debut because it’s a 20-minute trance-inducing attack on the senses. If this was your introduction to Chouk Bwa & The Ångstromers, you’d be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed. That said, nothing will pump you up quite like this EP. It races along at a ridiculous BMP and changes tempo like a flowing river of consciousness. By leaving the improvisational and collective spirit alone, the music takes on a mind of its own and charges forward at times. When I first heard this, I wasn’t prepared for it. I had to stop and return to it when I was in need of an energy boost and to let all my emotions flail out. It was 20 minutes of shaking my body around the living room like a rag doll and I loved it. Just know going in that it’s an experience you can’t stay still to.
Recommended track: Vini wè m
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