Polobi & the Gwo Ka Masters share new single ‘Kawmélito’

We are pleased to announce the album Abri Cyclonique by Polobi & the Gwo Ka Masters as our first release of 2023. Drawing inspiration from the heart of the tropical forest, the mystical character of Polobi and his musicians collaborate with idiosyncratic producer Doctor L, forging a radical new take on the Gwo Ka musical tradition from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. An electro-acoustic palette and offbeat rhythms adorn the deeply rooted Creole songs on this album with a unique sound universe.

Out today, ‘Kawmélito’ is the first single to be released from the album. The accompanying video follows Polobi across various locations in Guadeloupe, showing his deep connection with the natural surroundings that have been inspiring his music since childhood.

Polobi & the Gwo Ka Masters - Kawmélito (Official Video)
Kawmélito old shoe / I heard you scream when I lay in the woods / After planting my yams / To feed my children 'Kawmelito' lyric translation
Abri Cyclonique is out on CD, LP and all digital platforms on 17 February 2023. The vinyl edition includes a coloured green disc and beautiful 12" photo and lyric booklet.

Moïse Polobi, 69 years old, descended from a family of former slaves. He’s been singing and sounding his djembé-like Gwo ka drums since childhood, heart-beating the memory of his ancestors in Guadeloupe. He was initiated at an early age, thanks to his dancer mother, who guided him into the intricate universe of lewoz, traditional gatherings where mind and body commune, boosted by the explosion of drums and the chants of singers.

In September 2020, after the global lockdown, Polobi joined a musical session at the home of one his neighbours, percussionist Klod Kiavué. That evening, he delivered a set of mystical songs, chronicling the daily life of a simple man deeply rooted in his environment. Hymns to Grande Savane; to Petit Bourg – mintues away on his moped; to the nearby Moustique and La Lézad rivers where he will lower his bamboo traps to catch the ouassou; to the woods of Tanbou and Duquerry which watch over this microcosm. Taking his peers to task, invoking the ancestors, he addresses the world in a Creole language that belongs only to him. His hoarse singing, woven with onomatopoeia and improvisation, leads him irresistibly into a trance.

In the audience, passing through Guadeloupe, Valérie Malot (artistic director of French music agency 3D Family) fell under the spell and immediately arranged to take Polobi into the recording studio.

Find out more about the album

Abri Cyclonique by Polobi & the Gwo Ka Masters is out on 17 February 2023 on Real World Records and is available to pre-order on CD and LP now. The first single, ‘Kawmélito’, is out now on all digital platforms.


Featured release

  • Abri Cyclonique

    Polobi & the Gwo Ka Masters

    Released 17 February 2023

    In the tropical Caribbean forest a river runs, the streaming water drowning out the rustling of leaves, the pulse of insects and the birds’ cry. The song of a man, more powerful than that of the waters, rises to the tops of the ancient trees. Polobi, balanced on a rock, launches a melody towards the infinite sky. Drawing inspiration from the heart of the forest, Polobi and his musicians collaborate with idiosyncratic producer Doctor L, forging a radical new take on the Gwo Ka tradition of Guadeloupe.

By Oran Mullan

Main image: Polobi in the sugar cane fields of Grand-Terre, Guadeloupe. Still taken from the official video for 'Kawmélito'.

Published on Fri, 06 January 23

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