Words by Howard Male
Many times I’ve taken a deep breath before beginning yet another CD review by some young global fusion band who have thrown everything into the musical pot only to end up sounding exactly like the previous global fusion band I’d reviewed. What all these bands should be doing is looking to France’s Lo’Jo. Not only were they one of the first musical genre-crossers, they also remain – on this, their 13th album – one of the most original.
That’s not to say, of course, that all these bands should endeavour to sound like Lo’Jo, but that they should absorb the fact that Lo’Jo have created a unique, instantly recognisable sonic signature by absorbing a myriad of influences rather than letting those influences dominate. There’s Denis Péan’s laidback, throaty Waitsian vocals perfectly complemented by the more expansive melodic harmonies of sisters Yamina and Nadia Nid el Mourid. There’s the symbiotic rapport between bassist Kham Meslien and drummer Baptiste Brondy, which always seems to always be pushing them out into new rhythmic territories. And of course there’s Richard Bourreau’s versatile violin work busy conjuring Balkan, African and even Japanese atmospherics while simultaneously adding class, poise and an extra layer of sonic trompe l’oeil to their luxurious widescreen sound.
Lo’Jo work because none of their songs are formulaic, yet there’s no self-conscious striving to make each one different either. So is Cinéma el Mundo up to their usual high standard? Of course it is. Even an average Lo’Jo album shimmers with atmosphere and originality – and this one is no exception.