Bèlènou – Emosyon Tambou-A (LP)
Label: BeauMonde Records
Released: RM 2019
Bèlènou take their name from Bèlè the traditional folk music of Martinique where Edmond Mondesir grew up. Mondesir’s resumé makes for interesting reading, he is a prominent trade unionist, professor of philosophy, and musician. In 1980 Mondesir met Léon Bestride a fellow trade unionist and activist, together they created Bèlènou with the intention of reviving the Martinique musical traditional. Bèlènou’s first recordings were faithful renditions of the Bèlè style, however in their 1990 release Emosyon Tambou-A (Emotion of the Drum) the duo began combining contemporary instrumentation with traditional Martinique rhythms. Mondesir recognised that for Bèlè to remain relevant it had to innovate. The influence of the Parisian jazz scene is prominent in Emosyon Tambou-A, tracks such as ‘Ni Dé Jou’ and ‘Démokrasi’ bring together jazz guitar and the tambour drum in striking symbiosis. The album exudes an energy and vibrancy that is intrinsic to the music of the Caribbean. Listening to Mondesir’s complex polyrhythmic drum compositions it is almost impossible to stay still, the music makes contact with that most bodily desire to dance. BeauMonde Records’ reissue of Emosyon Tambou-A reasserts their skill in selecting Caribbean records that resonate across cultures and decades.
Favourite track: Démokrasi