Title: Vodou Alé
Artist: Chouk Bwa & The Ångströmers
Label: Bongo Joe
Format: Digital, LP
Release Date: May 22, 2020
Vodou Alé is the first full length collaborative album between Chouk Bwa & The Ångströmers which showcases Afro-Caribbean voodoo influences from Chouk Bwa’s native Haiti. This debut release offers nine-tracks that merge Haitian mizik rasin (roots music) with the electronic production style of Brussels-based duo The Ångströmers, putting a modern spin on traditional music.
The Haitian influence on the album is clear in the drum-driven accompaniments, mesmerizing vocals, and call-and-response chanting that draws on Haiti’s religious practice of Vodou (or voodoo) for inspiration. Haitian Vodou culture is based on connection with ancestral and divine spirits, a far cry from its often satanic or evil portrayal in Western media. This unity and community-focused essence of Vodou is a central theme in the tracks on Vodou Alé. The groups described their music best when they called it “future-leaning Vodou dub… where rituals of the future can be heard leaking into the precisions of the past.”
Vodou Alé pays homage to the often-misrepresented practice of Haitian Vodou and the traditional ceremonial music that accompanies it. Chouk Bwa’s collaboration with The Ångströmers elevates this music with a more contemporary, electronically-driven production that still manages to retain the essence of Haiti’s rich cultural traditions.
Reviewed by Chloe McCormick