Au Cabaret Sauvage
(World Village, 2002)

Lo'jo defies description, breaking the boundaries of simple classification, and Au Cabaret Sauvage is a passionate blend of tradition, experimentation, raw power and cool restraint.

Denis Pean's husky vocals are at the heart of the band, sometimes a low chant, sometimes a rich resonant glide. Pean's voice soars and drops, sculpting the lyrics, mostly in French, into aural images. Wrapped around the driving power of his voice are the silken backing vocals of sisters Nadia Nid El Mourid and Yamina Nid El Au Mourid. Their voices lend perfectly. The sisters also play several of the variety of instruments that contribute to Lo'jo's unique sound.

Other band members include Richard Bourneau (violin, imzad, kora, bendir, crakech), Kham (bass, double bass, tbal, gon, paniers, bendir, accuba) and Mathieu Rousseau (drums, crakech, bongos, guiro, calebasse, darbouka, cascas). The recording is further supported by other musicians who guest on various tracks. A glossary at the end of the thorough and beautifully compiled liner notes describe the more exotic musical instruments.

Mostly composed by Pean, the songs are meticulously crafted, each a balance of sound and style. The poetry of the lyrics often resonates, even in translation, and the music dances and pulses, holding the listener's attention. Sometimes the lyric and music seem at odds, as in the title track "Au cabaret sauvage (In the Wild Cabaret)." The passion and intensity of the words contrast sharply with the accordion's Sunday-in-the-park calliope sound.

To paraphrase Andy Morgan in his introduction in the liner notes, don't try to describe or define Lo'jo. Let the music flow into your ears, brain and limbs and just experience the power of Au Cabaret Sauvage for yourself.

- Rambles
written by Donna Scanlon
published 8 February 2003

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