Review

Chouk Bwa & The Ångströmers

Somanti

Bongo Joe • 2023

Haiti and Belgium are almost 7,500 kilometres apart, but Chouk Bwa & The Ångströmers usually cross this distance within just a few minutes. The Vodou band and the industrial dub duo have been collaborating  for about seven years now, and »Somanti« is already the second album to come out of this transatlantic exchange. The starting point for these recordings was an extended tour in the spring of 2022. Where other bands use their time off  between gigs to stare at their smartphones or visit the sights of city XY, these musicians preferred to organise extended songwriting camps between the individual tour stops and bring the resulting material directly to the studio to record an entire album within a single day as a sort of grande finale. The energy born out of the moment can be felt in the result just as much as the nuanced elaboration of the source material over the course of the tour becomes noticeable: The tracks are based on the rhythms of Vodou ceremonies, interspersed with Creole-Haitian proverbs, and sound just as raw as they are sophisticated. The Ångströmers’ analogue production gives Chouk Bwa’s literally organic sound—wood, skins, animal horns, you name it—depth and roughness in equal measure. »Somanti« sounds like the Atlantic Ocean that lies between the coastal town of Gonaïves and the small metropolis of Brussels: wild and impetuous, yet following its own, almost mystical laws. Overwhelming, in the most positive sense of that word.