Bokanté

Strange Circles
(GroundUP)

Snarky Puppy ringleader Michael League has a worldly new project that combines a variety of musicians from all over the globe. It’s called Bokanté, which is Creole for “exchange.” That name is fitting, as
the eight musicians—hailing from four different continents—come together and exchange different musical ideas to birth something totally fresh. Through words sung by Malika Tirolien in Creole and French, sonic landscapes created by blending Snarky Puppy members with lap steel guitarist Roosevelt Collier, and percussion by André Ferrari and Keita Ogawa, Bokanté’s debut melds Caribbean and African sounds in psychedelic new ways.

On “O La,” polyrhythms give way to Collier’s spacey pedal steel guitar, which emerges as one of the leading voices on Strange Circles. With “Roudesann,” the Creole soul of Tirolien is at the forefront, until some Afrobeat riffng gives a loose, improvisational feel that fans of Snarky certainly will enjoy. “Apathie Mortelle” is a spiritual slow-burner that gives way to one of the most intensely energetic cuts on the record, “Vayan.” When sounds from across the world collide in the pop landscape, it often can come off as cheesy. Luckily, with League at the helm, this diverse group of musicians really nails it.