Fidel gives Konpa fans a reason to invest in their future
By Steve Desrosiers, Contributing Editor
Sep. 20, 2012
Fidel has made its official entry as one of the industry’s ambitious new bands. The group’s first release, “Avel li Fel” boasts a modest 10 original compositions and is an independent release.
Much of the buzz around Fidel stems from the adventures or misadventures of lead singer Dabenz Chery. Dabenz honed his pipes as a feature of some of the industry’s better known bands including the likes of Zenglen, System and the short-lived Canada based Oxygen to name a few. The events that led to his association and eventual disassociation from the better known among the groups are fodder that now serves the curiosity factor that may lead to sales and decent concert turn-outs in the coming months. Beyond the Dabenz factor, a charismatic figure like Patrick Appollon (Zin’s former drummer) being in the official line up is sure to help the expansion of the Fidel’s fan base.
If I were limited to two words to describe “Avel Li Fel” I’d choose: “hard-hitting” and that in the sense of Konpa’s legendary albums. I won’t rush to call this release legendary, but it aims high as evident in the album’s lead track, “Anbians” charged with horns arranged in the spirit of acts like System Band and Zenglen. The masterfully heavy -handed guitars on this tune are steeped in the innovations native to Haitian players and the overall groove swings so hard it can only be swagger.
The charms of another song “Let me be” are tucked in the quality of the songwriting, the effectively playful lead vocal performance and a soulful chorus (possibly inspired by Haiti’s legendary big band Tropicana), fantastic guitar work and a slow paced shuffle. The Zouk-love-Konpa “Ameliore’m” feels like one of the album’s hits formed as it is on the best bones of modern Zouk trends; it’s an enticing blend of voices and instruments. Other notable songs on this release include the heavy Konpa “Detay” and a humorous Zouk-Konpa, “Just for the thing” that y’all can discover yourselves.
Fidel has definitely provided reasons for hard-core Konpa fans to invest in their future. The quality of the instrumental work on the album is great especially where horns and guitars are concerned. There is a near perfect compatibility among these musicians where instrumental “savoir-faire” is concerned and this quality shines through every song.
Dabenz’s performances are on point and the vocalists backing him suffer mainly from wordy or uninspired songwriting. Guest artists whose talents help lift this release include heavyweights like drummer Shedley Abraham, former Zenglen guitarist El Pozo and more. The mix of the album is near flawless – good decisions were made in the audio space given to vocalists and all the instruments featured. Much credit has to be given to Jocel Almeus for his work sequencing songs for this release. Quality work overall!
Mezanmi ouve pot kite Fidel passé tande! Discover these guys today!
Men Cruz La
Cruz La is another of the industry’s new bands whose product recently hit local stores. The New York based crew’s first effort is an independent release comprised of 9 original compositions.
Cruz La hits the New York scene at an opportune time. New York once dominated the market with bands like Zin, Phantoms, Papash, Lakol, New York All Stars, and many more. The demise of these great acts eventually created a tremendous opportunity for the rise of the Miami sound as aired by bands like Zenglen, Nu-Look, Hangout, Harmonik and more. Miami’s dominance in bands, festivals and musical output has placed the once mighty New York scene on the back burner, but the tide might change with the advent of new bands like Karizma, J-Beatz and perhaps even Cruz La if their work is on-point.
“Men Cruz La” is youthful and light hearted and their commercial charms are irresistible. There is hardly a song on this release that is not worth a listen but the album really starts to pick up when we hit the song, “Fanm totale”, a hot and aggressively performed composition that reaches a heavenly climax when Djakout #1 star Shabba blesses the tune his special brand of Haitian Rap. The melodic charms of “Mwen Renmen’w” are many but the vocal and synth performances on this inventively arranged number are truly memorable. The seductive Zouk “Whine” boasts an unforgettable chorus, one of many banging synth features, a fine rap feature and the light instrumental touch native to the best Zouk love songs. Other notable tunes include the dramatic and creatively arranged “Sorry” where all the fine instrumental capacity of this outfit is on full display.
“Cruz La has definitely delivered in its first effort. The quality of the instrumental work on this release is very, very good and especially evident in the bold guitars and the expansive and rich synth work that graces all songs and the tight support performance of the rhythm section. While not all the numbers are outright hits, one almost hates to skip a song because where there are deficiencies, they are not long lasting and usually immediately followed by some impressive twist in a song’s arrangement or better yet a hot guitar or synth solo feature.
Cruz La really has a gift for creating catchy hooks and where some of the lead vocals struggle, one can count on the rescue of a nicely harmonized choral section with an inventive melodic twist in any given song. The band’s vocalists perform admirably but not consistently enough to take this work to its potential. One feels a mismatch at times between their timid delivery and the might of the instrumentalists. The songwriting could also step away from the usual thematic clichés and less words per measure but overall the effort is good. The invention that graces this work melodically makes it worthwhile. Cruz-La’s first effort is definitely worth checking out.
The Reporter Thanks: Patrick St. Germain and Parfumery International located at 860 Morton Street, Dorchester, 617-825-6151.