Not being aware of the Bariba Peopleâs culture, when I got my hands on this release by Analog Africa (a Gilles Peterson Worldwide Award 2011 Nominee for Label of the Year), I wasnât quite sure of what to expect. Based in Frankfurt, Germany, Analog Africa has been on a quest of unveiling unusual music that was never released outside of Africa before. âThe Bariba Soundâ is a collection of seventies Afro sounds from Beninâs defining and seminal Orcestre Super Borgou De Parakou. Through the raucously raw, Vodoun-inspired rhythms of Cotonou, Analog Africa gets deeper into obscured repertoires and tales. Ranging from Bariba and Dendi linguistic folklore to soul, pachanga, Afro-Beat and breakbeats, this remastered release of all those long lost sounds is a recreation of the bandâs live energy.
Getting into these tracks would be harder without basic knowledge on their background, so sharing some of the liner notes on Bariba People is something that needs to be done before we go any further:
âOriginating from the Kwara state of northwest Nigeria, the Bariba â a predominantly Islamic people â now dominate the Borgou department of Benin with the market city of Parakou at its heart. The rhythms of their culture constitute just one domain of the Islamic Funk Belt â a distinct musical swath of land encompassing northern Ghana, Togo and Benin. Once frequented by Muslim merchants and traders, the belt has yielded a rich harvest of talentâ.
There also exists a myth that the birth of modern African music in Parakou is inextricably linked to Super Borgou:
âThe progressive-minded father of the bandâs founder, Moussa Mama, imported modern music â which he learned while working as a goldsmith in Accra, Ghana â to the region in the fifties. His return to Borgou and subsequent teachings spawned countless bands from villages across the department. Super Borgou developed their own musical identity by reinventing traditional songs and rhythms. Orchestre Super Borgou de Parakou manufactured a sound of penetrating and unpolished directness, blurring the line between the erstwhile rhythms of the devout village and the modern grooves infecting the forward-thinking city. Their reinvention Â redefines what contemporary audiences classify as the âAfroâ genreâ.
Opening with the dynamic Bariba Soul style âGandiguiâ you get a taste of what was going on back then. That clean but also dirty guitar sound coming out of those somehow slender riffs, along with the improvised percussion, the organ and the singing, they are each one building a groovy jam that could go on forever, especially if you had the chance to be a part of it. Tracks like âAbakpeâ, âGuessi-Guere-Guessiâ, âA Na Gan Garo Ka Namâ, even if itâs hard to get something out of their titles, theyâre living proof that a particular style Â of music, no matter where it was originated from, it can be played by anyone, adding his personal touch, and still sound so original. Like on the folklore âSembe Sembe Boudouâ, itâd be rare for someone to imagine those kind of guitar sounds to come out from Africa. But still, with the percussion work being so powerful and characteristic, here you have a hit that never found its way out of its country. The same thing seems to happen with most of this discâs tracks too: âAbere Klouklouâ (wind instruments coming in), âKo Guereâ (a distorted ritualistic vision), âBori Yo Se Mon Baaniâ and the list could go on. âHanoubiangabouâ (a closer take on soul and rock) and the trippy âBininhounninâ are only a part of this excellent collectionâs last tracks, with âAdiza Claireâ providing a nice 6-minute ending.
Itâs a concept by Samy Ben Redjeb, founder of Analog Africa since October 2001. Having been a dedicated collector of original African vinyl records, the tracks on âThe Bariba Soundâ compilation which he put together are carefully chosen to make a decent presentation of that period. Itâs a record that you wonât just play once. Get yourself ready for a flashback.