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Boheme de Cristal
Emma (1999) Reissued on World Village (2001)

cd cover Lo'Jo are one of the more mysterious bands, or collectives, to emerge from France. The oft-used term 'world music' is apropos for what Lo'Jo create, but in their case it just doesn't convey the strange map by which the band steers. Boheme de Cristal snakes along in a wide variety of styles, almost like an avant-garde cabaret or auditory Cirque de Soleil.

"Baji Larabat"
You cannot get away from the African influences that continually simmer in Lo'Jo's music. A great deal of drums are present, augmented by handclaps, and stringed instruments such as the kora. An additional thrill is the presence of the Gangbe Brass Band from Cotonou, who colloborate on the Spanish/Mexican/Latin hybrid of "Se´┐Żor Calice." The rhythms are complex; the vocal stylings between Nadia and Yamina Nid El Mourid add yet another element of polyphony and are ecstatically delivered. Lo'Jo's tangled web is fully evident on the dense "Jah kas cool boy," where Richard Bourreau's rolling violin keeps all the diversity in check. When songs such as this are surrounded by others like the manic "Dobosz," where Denis Pean's wonderfully gruff voice sounds like our ringmaster and Bourreau's violin plays off Guy Raimbault's accordion, Lo'Jo enter into a continental style all their own.

Very high marks go to the bass work of Nico "Kham" Meslieu, whose sinuous lines and dub influences help build Lo'Jo's foundation on a dark swamp. Check out the creole vocals and headlong rush of "Bambritcho," a track that puts me in mind of the supernatural skunk-funk of Lo'Jo's prior CD "Mojo Radio." Lo'Jo, thankfully, never bore; their inventiveness keeps you guessing as to what is around the corner. And if their one English song, "In the Commotion," makes sense to you: "In the commotion I believe/ I saw you/dreaming dead lovers/then choreographing all their gestures/mine all/their words/mine all this/blow it up," then welcome to the circus, and let Lo'Jo bring the dynamite. - Lee Blackstone

"Baji Larabat" © 1999 Emma/Lo'Jo
used by permission

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