Kalenda - Lost Bayou Ramblers

Rice Pump Records

Let's be honest. Each new development in the evolution of contemporary music has been greeted initially with suspicion, resistance and in extreme cases taboos; from ragtime, swing and jazz, through Elvis, The Beatles and psychedelia, to punk and EDM. Acceptance comes hard when you're messin' with the music, even in a culturally-embracing environment like New Orleans. The origins of Kalenda go way back to a  stick-fought martial art in Haiti. Like capoeira in Brazil it was taboo practice for slaves who, by adding call and response chanting and music, would disguise Kalenda as a dance, which they would perform in New Orleans' famous Congo Square. But, with male dancers stripped to the waist gyrating in close to their female partners, this form of Kalenda would also be decried as lascivious and immoral. Lost Bayou Ramblers embrace the spirit of Kalenda on their latest album, not only as a musical guide but in all its glorious challenge to inhibitions and sensitivities.  “Tradition has to keep growing and keep breathing to continue to live.” explains vocalist and fiddler, Louis Michot. As any listener to their previous releases like The Mammoth Waltz or who have had the fortune to catch them live in performance can attest, The Ramblers are thoroughly versed in Cajun traditions and equally adept at re-fabricating them for today's musical landscape. All the familiar Cajun touchstones are present yet often submersed in buzzy atmospheres of distortion, echo and electronics. Kalenda is an immersive experience. Key tracks include the opener, Sabine Turnaround, Granny Smith which finds the perfect balance of crunch and melody, Freetown Crawl/Fightin'ville Brawl, a meandering experiment that sounds something like a twisted Sonic Youth romp through the swamp; The Bathtub - a grunged-out waltz, the Celtic-flavored Si J'aurais Des Ailes featuring Spider Stacy on tin whistle and Nezpique.