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Soel: Memento

Woodrow Wilkins By

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The lineage of Memento winds through many directions.

Trumpeter Pascal Ohse is a member of St. Germain, the best-selling European group led by Ludovic Navarre. When it came time for Ohse to unveil his first solo effort, he chose to call it Soel, a West African name that honors his Guinean roots. He unveils a part-acoustic/part-electronic work that breaks the boundaries of soul, funk, and blaxploitation soundtracks.

The music is a hybrid of funk, world beat, cool jazz, and late-'60s or early-'70s blaxploitation film soundtracks. In fact, several tracks could easily find room in the Shaft film series. The third song, "My Singing Soul," for example, features a deep vocal that pays homage to both Barry White and Isaac Hayes.

Among the album's soulful vocal collaborations are clement Ashford's beautiful rendition of "Earth Mother," a tribute to an American Indian poem with bongos, tabla, and a dub background plus Victoria "Tori Robinson, an American gospel singer who lives between Paris and Florida, and depicts the madness of our time on "To This World," one of two likely dance floor fillers. The other is the opening track, "Le Vicomte (The Viscount)," a tribute to a record collector friend who helped Soel with his research work.

Elsewhere on the album, the tempo slows down, from "Shining Pain" and "Black Woman"—inspired by the aforementioned blaxploitation soundtracks—to the gospel-infused "My Singing Soul" or the somber "We Have Died Already," which brings to mind the vitality of the urban poets of the 1960s.

Throughout, Memento is loaded with music that's bound to inspire and provoke thought. It's a fascinating change of pace from the usual.

Track Listing: Le Vicomte, Shining Pains, My Singing Soul, Prelude, Black Woman, The Earth Mother, To This World, The Way U R, We Have Died Already

Personnel: Pascal Ohse, trumpet; Victoria

Title: Memento | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Warner Bros.


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