Not that you’re going to hear anything that’s too familiar, or recognize names like Barel Coppet et Mister Lof, whose Jeunesse Vauclin gets things off to a lively start, followed by Haiti's Les Loups Noirs’ Jet Biguine, complete with psych-out jet effects. Apart from recording in Martinique Les Loups Noirs apparently spent much of their time travelling between Haitian communities in, among other places, New York and Toronto, as well as throughout the Caribbean.

You could probably come up with equally intriguing stories if you delved deep enough, and spend any amount of time trying to figure out the influences on tracks like Abel Zéno’s Pas O Soué  La, Raphaël Zachille’s Manzé Mona or the Robert Mavounsy Quartet’s Henri Te Vlé Mayé but in an environment where Hughesy’s vaguely-remembered High School French isn’t enough to translate the titles I’m inclined to sit back and enjoy the grooves instead.

La Vie Critique by L’Orchestre Jeunesse de Paul-Emile Haliar might translate as The Critical Life, but doesn’t sound like a nitpicker in action, while Orchestre Combo Zombi et Michel Yéyé’s Mussieu A Têt’a Poisson La has something to do with fish, though I’m not sure about the shape or form. 

I was tempted to come up with equally vague remarks about the rest of the album’s diverse array of styles and buoyant bounce but, in the long run, decided Tumbélé is something to be enjoyed rather than analysed. 

That’s my excuse, anyway.  

The sounds on this particular album sit on the fringes of familiarity, but there’s an exoticism that suggests a flow of people, cultures and traditions, backwards and forwards between metropolitan France, the Caribbean colonies and their neighbours and the African sources that drove so much of the music that came out of the Americas.  Forget classifications and generic definitions, this exotic concoction of French, African, Calypso, Latin and assorted local flavours is bound to add more than a desh of interest to a playlist, and I’m definitely looking for more.

I have a sneaky feeling I'll be taking a good long look at the catalogue over at Soundway Records. The difficult part is going to lie in deciding where to start.

Track listing...

© Ian Hughes 2012