Cinéma El Mundo is the latest release from the band Lo’jo. Their music may well get slotted into the vast world music genre but you cannot pin this one that easily. For starters it opens to Tout est fragile with crickets chirping and Robert Wyatt reading in French: “In the beginning the comets stuttered / Neither fish nor harbour nor clock nor measure / No shelter for the lie / Nor sieve for the gold…”
What follows is fourteen tracks which take you on a journey pulling in influences from across the globe, the sonorous tones of Denis Péan is wonderful to listen to, even if I have no idea what he’s saying the effect of music and voice is hynotic, no surprise he has been described as the shamanic twin of Tom Waits or the Gallic poet brother of Johnny Cash in his late American Recordings phase. I’m slightly ashamed that this is the first album of theirs I’ve heard…they have 13 albums under their belt! The band was born on the margins of Angers, in the west of France and state they have remained on the edge ever since…it shows. I’ve been saying for a long time now that the music that excites me is the music from the edge, a term we once for one of our radio channels. It’s the edge where boundaries blur and the most exciting creations take place. “To live on the margins is just a way of remaining true to one self,” Péan says.
The scale of Lo’jo can be clearly heard on Cinéma El Mundo, this isn’t a sound you create in the isolation of a bedroom or town…this is a collection of not just sounds but experiences as the music they create is more than just a fusion, they have journeyed wide and far from:
“the southern Sahara, where they helped to organize the very first Festival in the Desert in 2001, and subsequently launch the international career of the Touareg poet-guitarists Tinariwen; Tbilisi and the Caucasus, where their Babel Caucase caravan stopped over en route to Chechnya ; The Reunion Islands in the southern Indian Ocean, just one of Lo’Jo’s many homes from home; not to mention all the places where the band have simply plugged in, to both the local grid and the local human fiesta, and performed…Agadir, Adelaide, Chicago, New York, Buenos-Aires, Katmandou…the list is long and varied, bewilderingly so.”
Their sound is vast not just in influence but in their presentation: supported by the sublime Violin work of Richard Bourreau, bass lines that simmer and hook you from Kham Meslien with matching percussion from drummer Baptiste Brondy…a symbiotic relationship if ever there was one. The Nid El Mourid sisters, Yamina and Nadia, add their equally evocative vocals to the sum who along with Péan make up the core sextet from which the band expand and invite other guests into their unique fold.
I will not even attempt to generalise their music with a label, that would be insulting…as they are just as much a project as a band that is continually re-shaping and creating. You just need to feast your ears on the album which you can (below)…there are so many choice cuts to rave about but you can’t go far wrong with Deux bâtons and La Marseillaise en créole…unfortuantely french is not my forte so I will be looking to my French sister-in-law for translation as I’m told their magic also lies in their lyrics.
Even without the lyrical knowledge this is the sort of music that inspires revolution against everything that has come to represent the materialistic and mainstream that many of you seek an alternative to. Another very good reason to seek them out and discover more!
Lo’jo kick off their UK tour next week!
UK Tour Dates
28th May – BOTW, Manchester
29th May – Richmix, London
30th May – Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham by Sea
31st May – Theatr Mwldan, Cardigan
1st June – Wychwood Festival
2nd June – Jerwood Dance House, Ipswich