Picks and Pans Review: Kalfou Danjere

updated 03/15/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/15/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

Boukman Eksperyans

Haiti has long been a dangerous place in which to speak up for freedom and democracy, most recently since the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991. Which may be why the rootsy vodou rockers Boukman Eksperyans sing so sweetly—their lilt masks their revolutionary intent. Named after the black vodou priest who catalyzed resistance against the French more than 200 years ago, the band blends ceremonial drumming patterns and gaga carnival chants with reggae and West African pop. Led by singer Theodore "Lolo" Beaubrun Jr., this nine-person ensemble makes music that is both catchy and fiercely joyous. Don't expect any references to voodoo. Vodou preaches self-reliance and pride in West African ancestry, much like Jamaica's Rastafarianism.

Recorded last year in May in Port-au-Prince amid political turmoil, death threats, surveillance and local power outages, this album testifies to the courage and determination of Haiti's democratic movement. Though the sound mix lacks the intensity of live performances, Kalfou Danjere pleases the body, soothes the heart and fires the spirit. (Mango)

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