T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou

Le Sato 2

Acid Jazz • 2023

If the label says Poly-Rhythmo, then you can be sure it’s the band from Cotonou that has appeared under various versions of the name. The best known is probably Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou, and where the obscure »T.P.« is added to its name, it must mean nothing less than »tout puissant«, omnipotent. Founded in 1968 by Clément Mélomé aka Mélomé Clément and still in existence today, the group is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Their Afrobeat is marked by a raw sound, with electric guitars or Farfisa organs often adding a psychedelic charge. Their album »Le Sato 2« was almost indistinguishable from the earlier »Le Sato« from 1974 due to its almost identical cover design and is now considered a rarity. The good ten-minute-long first track exuded energy right from the start, with slender funk where the sax and organ circle around each other. And even in the vocal verses in between, with their comparatively calm melodies, the pressure doesn’t let up; and all you can do in reaction is begin to move. A ballad-like number permits a short break before the rhythms call out to dance again, which the musicians do without fail. And finally, »Je n’en peux plus«, a polyphonic number that sounds like an Afrobeat version of a Velvet Underground song. In a good and touching way.