Various Legends Of Benin

Analog Africa has zeroed into one particular stretch of West Africa over the last couple of years and still has miles to go. The party starts right away with the up-tempo rock of Gnonnas Pedro's "Dadje Von o Von Non." The collection's focus is on four artists, and it's a worthwhile endeavour: funk, rock, Latin swing and Afrobeat are all done with ease and verve while illustrating the individual personalities of the artists. While the raw fireworks that characterized AA's "African Scream Contest" aren't quite evidenced here, there are still plenty of take-no-prisoners dance grooves, especially those featuring the most polished band to grace these collections: Orchestre Poly Rytmo. But raw power is never far away, so the muscular reggae of "Nou Akuenon Hwlin Me sin Koussio" by Antoine Dougbe's needling organ and sour trumpet comes off as inspiring and provocative rather than relaxing. And the frantic moments remain — El Rego's contributions sound particularly punk. Some listeners may find this trait very appealing, distinguishing this collection from Soundway's Nigeria Rock Special due to its lack of prog rock influences and involved studio craft. (Analog Africa)