Album Review: Vaudou Game – OTODI [Hot Casa Records: 26th October 2018]

A sentimental fist-bump to Afro-Funk, Vaudou Game’s album OTODI (released by Hot Casa Records) mixes traditional Togolese scales with a James Brown-style rhythm section intended for ritual dance. Lead songwriter Peter Solo attempts to conjure the spirits of voodoo, the very spirits he converses with daily.

The third offering from lead singer Peter Solo differs to those before, as he performs solely with local musicians recorded in a Lomé based studio (OTODI). Flag bearing for the historical culture of Togo, he sings the influence of Vaudou, a religious and musical practice originating from the Fon people in Togo, Benin and Nigeria.

The opening track ‘Not Guilty’, featuring Roger Damawuzan, is almost a clone of James Brown’s most famous tracks. Despite the tight funky execution, it is hard to relate with the deity communication intended to be conveyed. However, this is a seriously upbeat addictive number that will put you into a hypnotic dance groove for those less concerned with originality. Vocal screams and grunts adorn the track as it honours that African American 70s soul sound.

‘Sens Interdit’ is a solid Afrobeat number. The guitar playing is locked in with the rhythm section and the singing is beautifully energetic and strong with intent. ‘Tassi’ is a 6/8 swinging conclusion to the LP. A chorus of Togolese women takes lead, manoeuvring gently to the wind-down. To a Western ear, this will feel like one of the more genuine Vaudou submersions.

Throughout the album, Solo sings in his native dialect as well as with scatterings of English and French. Despite bordering on repetitive, the drive and the band’s ability and willingness to sit on the front of the beat keeps momentum throughout. This feels like a funk-fuelled jam party you’d like to join for a night of light-hearted fun. It’d likely start as the sun sets and carry on until sunrise, with beaming all round.