Thursday, November 15, 2012

Elikeh Are Between 2 Worlds

Arriving in Washington DC in 2000 Massama Dogo brought his native influences as well as his desire to meld African and American music into a concoction that paid respect to his native Togo while looking forward to sounds outside of his home. Eventually putting together the Afropop group Elikeh, Dogo brought his dreams to reality. Elikeh are a fascinating world music experience who take elements of Fela Kuti, reggae, jazz, and of course traditional Togolese music mix them altogether and come up with something refreshingly bright. Their album Between 2 Worlds is exactly that, a record caught between lands, times, traditions and influences.

While Between 2 Worlds is obviously rooted in Afropop it contains such an overwhelming vintage jazz influence that it's almost hard not to call this record a jazz funk album. Between 2 Worlds establishes a fantastic series of grooves early on and carries that rhythm throughout the entire record. With bongos, percussion, awesome horn riffs, and basslines that kill Elikeh prove themselves to be stunning musicians without even trying. So much of this record is just filled with incredible musicianship and such tight grooves and rhythms that it's hard not to listen with your jaw dropped. These guys are tight and they lay it all down throughout Between 2 Worlds and I love how the band work within traditional and modern environments and so easily flip flop between them. It's so complex and well mixed that you kind of need a score card to keep track of it all and I suspect that's one of the main reasons why I've thoroughly enjoyed listening to Between 2 Worlds.

Extremely well played and packed with seamless transitions Elikeh truly do operate Between 2 Worlds and our ears are the benefactors of this. From vintage sounding guitar workouts, Togolese vocals, killer bongo breakdowns and just about everything in between this is a fascinatingly brilliant record. It's hard not to like this album if you have any musical training at all because these guys just jam from the get go and really never slow down. Between 2 Worlds as a result is energetic, funky, jazzy, and superb; it's easily one of the coolest world music records I've heard this year.

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