Delgres: November Album of the Month

Mo Jodi

If today's music sounds too tame for your tastes, first cut back on the coffee and then queue Delgrès. This is a seriously badass trio led by vocalist Pascal Danaë, who is into  serious Creolization. He unearths his multi-tendrilled roots, those reaching to Mali, Guadeloupe, France, and Mississippi; arms himself with electric dobro with a built-in resonator he plays slide guitar style; and unleashes a voice that booms through anything in the background. That's a serious "anything," by the way. His trio is completed by a Sousaphone player named Rafgee, who toots wet fart notes at any pretense of pretty music; and drummer Baptiste Bondy, who pounds the skins like the world will end in half an hour. The title track feels simultaneously edgy, sexy, and dangerous. "Can't Let You Go" is bluesy and robust; "Respecte nou" would kick the roof off a Zydeco roundhouse; and his "Mr. President," is a universal challenge to leaders to live up to their promises to end struggle. By the time we get to "Pardone mwen," its very quietness surprises. Delgrès doesn't spend a lot of time on the soft end of the musical blanket; it prefers the lumps.

This album is testimony to what great World Music can do: remind us that the tendrils that veer off in different directions are all connected to the same taproot. Danaë lives in Paris and Amsterdam, but has become a world citizen. His band is named for an early 19th century Guadeloupian hero who died in an 1802 battle against French Napoleonic armies seeking to restore slavery to the island. This is music that at once gives hope, but lashes out against dark forces. It's one of the coolest and baddest albums I've heard in some time.

Rob Weir

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