Mapping a tropics somewhere between the musical worlds of Jon Hassell and Wally Badarou, Rico Toto`s Fwa Épi Sajès is quality afro / cosmic gear. The percussive percolations, gentle technologically-assisted tribal tides, tap into the traditional Gwo-ka rhythms of Rico’s homeland, Guadeloupe. Termed “Electro-ka” by their creator, they roll like rivers through the selected synthetic soundscapes, stopping off to paint pictures of palms and blue skies along the way. The collective clattering, when coupled with cool contrabass, conjuring a sort of jazz-fusion. Woman, man, and machine, working in close spiritual harmony. The group vocals, a mix of scat and chant.
Chimes, muted horns, and the odd soaring sax are interwoven with rainforest wildlife warbling. Jungle shrieks shaking the sine-waves and drones. Yadade is vocoder boogie, and shares some similarities with the “ambient” soul of Rare Silk’s seminal Storm, a dose of “do-wop from Mars”, while Akacia’s almost acapella, near prayer-like lament, is surrounded by spaced-out Sheffield bleeps.
The title track is the most outright electronic offering. A ceremony / symphony, composed on kit from Akai, ARP, Roland, Yamaha, and a whole lotta KORG. Cut by the chords of brass-like fanfares, and showered with a sprinkling of switched-on glissando, I’m reminded of albums such as Peru’s Continents. Daniele Baldelli and Bepe Loda plugged-in prog favourites, that dare you dream, imagine, an exotic other.
Rico Toto ’s Fwa Épi Sajès is out today, on Invisible City Editions.