Zack: This is, I believe, the first time I’ve really come across Congolese music. We’ve listened to a few artists from South Africa (Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Miriam Makeba) and I’ve encountered some from neighboring Mali (Ali Farka Toure, Tinariwen) and Niger (Fela Kuti, Bombino), but the Congo had remained sonically unexplored by me at least. After listening to Haut de Gamme, I can’t say that I was terribly impressed. Koffi Olomide chiefly operates in a genre of music called soukous, which is a type of dance music. Right away, I should have known I was in trouble. I haven’t typically gotten too into most types of dance music, since I listen to these albums usually on the couch while doing work or something. Not exactly an environment conducive to dancing. It just seems like Haut de Gamme is not an album made for me to enjoy. But, hey, if you do like dance music, especially variations on the rumba, this may be worth checking out.
Favorite Tracks: Désespoir; Obrigado; Koweit, Rive Gauche
Emily: World music is always an opportunity to explore a genre of music that I haven't encountered before and likely won't encounter again. Koffi Olomide's Haut De Gamme introduces us to soukous, a Congolese genre of dance music that was derived from the rumba. The name even comes from the French word for "to shake." And shake is what you will do when listening to this album. Maybe some elaborate dance moves will break out when Koffi Olomide comes on at a Congolese party, but some mild butt-shaking and shoulder-grooving from the comfort of your couch will fit as well. Either way, it's music that compels you to move.
Favorite Tracks: Elixir; Papa Bonheur; Qui Cherche Trouve