Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Anguile & the High Steppers – La Sagesse du Roi/Wisdom of the King

African roots reggae on the spiritual tip. Gabonese-American-via-Paris frontman Anguile delivers unpretentiously soulful meditations on several popular reggae themes: racial equality, respect for the earth and family, African liberation and the need for world peace among them, perhaps underscored by the fact that Anguile comes from a mixed-race background. Some songs switch between French and English, with several in either one or the other: Africans are famously multilingual. The riddim tracks are pleasantly oldschool with bubbling organ, rattling percussion, trebly 1970s style guitar, vocal harmonies and the occasional horn chart.     

The cd kicks off with Sur les Cotes de l’Afrique (On the African Coast), a percussive Ras Michael style number, whirling layers of of synth in the background adding a dizzying effect. Oh Africa sounds like a rootsier Francophone version of what Luciano was doing ten years ago. For Anguile, Negre Blanc is something of a theme song, a triumphant announcement of transcendence over racial stereotyping. A couple of the songs here, Party Party and Cocol Gnam Bi (Forgive Us, Lord) have an Afrobeat vibe, the latter, a Steel Pulse-ish number,  asking forgiveness for the Africans who collaborated with the slave traders and left sixty million dead. Nebukanetzar addresses the price of vanity, the ominous tale of a fallen dictator.

The rest of the cd alternates between the spiritual and the secular, notably Change Ton Pas (Change Your Ways) with its eerie, recurring synth motif. There are also two alternate versions and a dub version of Negre Blanc. This fits right in with the new wave of soulful reggae coming from African shores: in a sense, Marcus Garvey’s words really have come to pass, at least as far as music is concerned. Watch this space for upcoming New York area shows.

July 2, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment