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Album Review

Antilles Mechant Bateau [coll] – [Born Bad Records]

aarbor   11/15/2022   12-inch, International

Afro-Caribbean roots music from the 1960s in the French West Indies. Mechant Bateau means bad or wicked boat – this refers to the slave ships that brought so many people from Africa to the West Indies.

Gwo Ka is a drum made of old salting or wine barrels which is at the center of this music and has been revived by recent generations to pay tribute to their ancestors’ suffering. The “ka” once creolized, was a powerful symbol of resistance since the colonial era. Blues and Ka represent the same battle – centuries of oppression. Jazz gives it an emancipating energy and sense of humor from established formats. It borrows from the “latin” rhythms of neighboring islands, and includes beguines with percussion-spiced tempos. There are also laid-back – but dark – ballads all sung in Creole (the French of the African descendants). This compilation takes us back to the early days of a movement of rebirth synonymous with recognition of heritage. It is the sound of identity for the descendants of the African slaves. Recognition of their identity and heritage in which all the musics from the Black Atlantic diaspora naturally intertwine. Reminding us that an original culture emerged from the holds of these ‘wicked boats’. AArbor

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