In this feature, The Times' pop music writers spotlight out-of-the-way albums of special merit.
Albums: "DANCE! CADENCE!" Various artists (Globestyle, import); "GO SOUTH." Various artists (Meadowlark/Shanachie).
Sound: "Dance! Cadence!" is the first compilation album of the exuberant, hybrid pop style native to the small, French-speaking Caribbean islands and Martinique. Cadence songs are sung in Creole, but any language barrier is overcome by the vibrant, danceable thrust of the music. Brassy horn sections redolent of calypso and a lilting rhythm reminiscent of salsa are common, but the eight tracks here show an appealing diversity.
Georges Plonquitte's "Nous Pas Bisouin" starts in a mellow, mid-tempo groove but quickly picks up momentum, while "Konesans" by Makandjia features a horn melody and vocal delivery that Charles Aznavour would feel comfortable with.
"Go South" is a valuable introduction to contemporary African pop. The emphasis is on recent hybrids influenced by both traditional sounds and modern technology. Souzy Kasseya's catchy "Mr. Simon" incorporates synthesizers and a clap track. The album's chief oddity is "Bushwoman" by Onike, a Trinidadian singer who absorbed African styles in Nigeria but recorded the rock/reggae/funk track in Los Angeles with former James Brown/P-Funk horn mainstay Fred Wesley producing.
The first side is particularly striking as Kasseya's Europeanized version of the infectious Zairian style and Sankomota's atmospheric blend of South African sounds sandwich Thomas Mapfumo's gritty combination of the two.