Gangbe Brass Band
Whendo (Roots Racines/Contre Jour CJ015, 2004)
Best described as afrobeat-goes-trad (afrotrad?), the sound of Benin’s Gangbé
Brass Band blends percussion and group vocal with a potent brass sound. Bursting
forth with a relentless, driven, percussive base and bubbling tuba bass line the
band positively explode with infectious dance grooves. The horns often play in
relay causing cascading cadences of sound to tumble forth, paving the way for
exquisite, pithy, trumpet and saxophone solos. Vocal sections are handled in an ensemble way, something which works well in their very exciting live performance. In fact, their show is very much a live experience, although it’s clear that Whendo has overcome the problem of live-to-studio much better than the band’s 2000 debut (and, to date, their only other release) Togbé.
The overall sound is powerful, punchy and very focussed, light and shade are more in evidence and the impact of the vocal passages and solos more marked. This will probably be seen as a major step forward for the band and we’ll no doubt be seeing more of them throughout 2005.