In january 2012 three musicians from Helsinki, Finland travelled to Benin, West-Africa. They put together an 8-piece band with local musicians, and so was Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble born. During the period of six weeks, the group rehearsed daily and recorded an album. They also played 2 shows in Benin's biggest city, Cotonou, and one in a small village of Grand-Popo near the border of Togo.
Later the album was completed and mixed in Finland, and it's release on May 7th 2013 will be followed by a tour of 17 concerts in Finland.
Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble's music is a powerful mix of Beninese traditional rhythms derived from the Voodoo-religion, Nigerian Afrobeat and many styles of the ever rich Afro-American musical heritage. This delicious cocktail of styles is approached from a totally unexpected direction and pre-assumption free climate of making music: Helsinki, Finland. The performances on this record radiate an overwhelming energy and joy of making music, and the listener can really feel all the adventures related to the making of this record. On the other hand fast tempos, multilayered compositions and rich harmonies are executed with firm skill and musical professionalism.
All music is written by the group's guitarist Janne Halonen (FIN) and percussionist/lead vocalist Noël Saïzonou (Benin). The seed for this music was already planted in the spring of 2009, when Janne Halonen travelled to Benin for the first time. At the time the purpose of his trip was to research and discover the rich musical heritage of the tiny country. He became quickly friends with Mr Saïzonou and they started an active collaboration. Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble's debut album "Beacoup de Piment!" is the first fruit of that friendship.
"Beaucoup de Piment!", can be loosely translated "Lot of (African) chili". Benin is part of the French speaking territories of Africa, so this sentence became something we always remembered to add to our food orders in restaurants during our trip. It soon turned out everyone in the band prefers their food portions (and music) super spicy hot, so the local Piment turned out to be a real treat.
To watch videos and photos, and read more about our adventures in Africa, please visit our Website.
Meanwhile, press "buy", sit back and enjoy the music!