VO-DUO - NOU LA | A musical cornucopia which proudly exalts the beauty and uniqueness of Creole music.
Listening to "Nou La" is like embarking in a journey to discover (or rediscover) the stunning beauty of music nurtured by the voodoo musical repertoire. In their perpetual quest to draw and shape the contour of a new direction in "Rasin" music, guitarist Monvelyno Alexis and percussionist Markus Schwartz launch a duo-album, strewn with groundbreaking percussion approach and beautiful melodies that intertwine with polyrhythmic "Rara" lines as well as amazing guitar chords that seem to fit all nine tracks compiled on this album.
The music on Vo-Duo, alike all previous creations from these two well-known Krey˛l jazz musicians, continues to be atypical to what we are accustomed to listening. It is a quest to find the hidden truth, the non spoken words and untold stories behind what we can call now the voodoo standards (traditional). To do so, they came up with dazzling ad complex arrangements to support these soothing sacred melodies that are entrenched in the Haitian collective memory. Markus innovates by fusing elements or sounds of the American drum kit tradition (bass, snare, cymbals) with deep and fine voodoo drum instruments and obvious insight knowledge, resulting in a blend of sounds that serves this music in a way that one or the other alone, never could. Not even a "kit drummer" and a voodoo drummer playing together could achieve the blend that is created by the setup and approach taken on this album
Pieces such as "Alegba Gran Chimen", "Kouzen", "Wang˛l" and "Gede Men Lajan", to cite a few, deserve special attention. Monvelyno's voice and original scat skills seem to fit very well this music. He composed almost half of what is on the album, the other half coming from the Voodoo & folklore traditions. It might take a few listens with this in mind, to realize just how masterfully and beautifully he composed original parts that are the frame and even the canvas, to the palette of colors embodied by the Voodoo songs in these sound paintings. The listener will certainly find refreshing the "inside" playing of the instrument that is set to go along with a sustainable presence of the drums combination mentioned earlier as the core piece of the project.
This album, the third from Lakou Brooklyn stands as another courageous endeavor initiated by two unconditional lovers and advocates of the Afro Haitian culture joined by Barry Diament, a world class mastering engineer. The listener will notice the exceptional sound of the record. It is the expression of the determination of the two "Lakou" pilgrims to enable the legacy in the footsteps of previous great bands such as "Sa", "Foula", and the very early version of "Boukman Eksperyans". They both thrive to carry the unique signature that defines Vo-Duo as a rare, tenacious, valuable and enlightening voice in this uncharted territory.
Alphonse Piard, Jr.
November 16, 2012