Friday, November 9, 2012

In review--Lo'Jo Returns

Cinéma el Mundo
World Village

It takes a global village to make a Lo’Jo album, but then Lo’Jo, hailing from Angers, France, feels more like a collective of nomadic musicians, than a structured sextet.  After a hiatus from North America, the French band has returned with the eclectic Cinéma el Mundo (Cinema of the World) that harks back to Lo’Jo’s Mojo Radio of the late 1990s, but minus rousing songs such as Mojo Radio and Sin Acabar.  The new album possesses a more contemplative sound and like the cinema in its title, conjures floating images.

I have yet to come across a world music act that fuses whirling circus music with traditional instruments from Africa, Asia, and Europe in the manner of Lo’Jo--“original” doesn’t come close to describing this band’s music.  I imagine any music journalist new to the scene will choke on adjectives trying to describe this band that defies any labels.  Then with each album, the musicians delve deeper into the “Lo’Jo effect” (phrase coined by me).

Alger features swirling waltz-like piano and Richard Bourreau’s gypsy violin with Denis Péan’s gruff vocals punctuating the song. El Cabo also flows to a slower tempo with a waltz-like feeling, but this time the vocalist sisters, Nadia and Yamina Nid El Mourid chip in their luxurious harmonies.  Perhaps, it is my imagination but Lo’Jo stays with a 3/4 time signature for the bulk of the recording, which creates a dreamy atmosphere that at times feels like underwater music or that I have stepped into an alternate universe.

Oh, we’re not through with the delightful surprises yet.  On Cométe Algébrique, Péan and his bandmates bring the world to us, but melding European strings with a Chinese traditional erhu played by Guo Gan and darn, if I don’t feel like I’m watching Chinese classic cinema.  The following track, Vientiane also features the Chinese effect, but with western-style vocals--comes off as exquisite.  I’m not going to describe the remainder of tracks, but I will say, Cultural Creatives, this album was made for you.  Anyone who has accumulated the global miles Lo’Jo has would also sound like a global village.  This French band has the world pulse at its fingertips along with a rainbow bridge of humanity.

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