When Michael League first described the sound of Bokanté to this writer he offered, “It has 3 guitars, 3 percussionists, lap steel, and a vocalist from Guadeloupe/Montreal singing in Creole. Kind of a mixture between blues and West African music.”
While completely accurate, Michael neglected to mention that the result is a wildly wonderful, powerful, and completely infectious fusion of multiple influences and players. In a word, Strange Circles is brilliant.
Michael covers the low end of the group with baritone guitar, along with ukulele bass and his Hofner bass. The change in texture from the P-Bass growl with which he is often associated fits perfectly in the instrumentation of Bokanté. Several songs take advantage of the wide range, multi-guitar lineup by defining forceful, riff-driven underpinnings. On these tunes, Michael and guitarists Bob Lanzetti and Chris McQueen are able create a tremendous sound that delightfully dances along the edge of containment.
As has been demonstrated in Michael’s other sonic adventures, his compositions pull the best from the players assembled to create awe-inspiring width and depth in sound. The palette for Bokanté includes the aforementioned guitarists Bob Lanzetti and Chris McQueen, along with vocalist Malika Tirolien, percussionists Jeremy Haddad, Keita Ogawa, and André Ferrari, and lap steel guitarist Roosevelt Collier. A prime example of fully utilizing this broad range of musicians can be heard in the tune, “O La”. The “bloom” that occurs from the section turn at 5:00 to the end of the song is remarkable.
Strange Circles is available now through the GroundUp store in CD, DVD, FLAC, MP3, and vinyl form. The group hits the road this month; tour dates can be found on their site www.bokante.com/#!/tour.