Saturday, 2 April 2016

Oliver: Lucien Bokilo - Tchao Je Me Casse (25 January 1992)

You will have gathered by now that I'm not exactly Gilles Petersen when it comes to expressing a scholarly appreciation of "world music" despite the fact plenty of examples have featured on the blog so far, and doubtless will for years to come given that Peel played it virtually until he died (and we haven't even reached the Kanda Bongo Man years yet).

Nevertheless, it was while listening to Tchao Je Me Casse (which literally translates as Cheerio, I Break) by Lucien Bokilo that I made what could almost be termed a musicological breakthrough when it came to considering the merits of this track.  On my first listening, I wasn't overly impressed. I should clarify here, I mean my first listening outside of the Peel show on which it was broadcast.  On that recording, the patina of radio waves picked up by the tape, smothered the track in ear-heart goodness but listening to it on YouTube, so it could be shared, it all sounded a bit undistinguished.  Nothing on the track to compare with the plangent arpeggios of a track like Leonore.  But it struck me after a while that so much African music falls into 2 camps.  On the one hand, you have those tracks which lay out their wares in the first few minutes solely to set up the virtuoso work of players like Diblo Dibala or Dally Kimono who played all the way through Bokilo's album The Game is Over.  These are more ear catching and exciting, often they are the pay off if the track has got off to a rather dull start.  Tracks to wake you back up or re-double your efforts to dance.
But Tchao Je Me Casse belongs to the other camp.  There's no particularly flashy solo here, nothing breaking through after an uncertain start.  Instead, it's all based around an insistent, anchoring groove.  I suspect that its intended for the dancers who would be supporting this track when played in live gigs.  Usually, the groove is the preserve of the bassist but here it's done by a guitar and it works surprisingly well.
So much so, that I'm now wondering whether this is the better of the two Bokilo tracks that feature on this blog.

Video courtesy of soukousnostalgie.

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