Hermas Zopoula – Espoir
Hermas Zopoula is a car mechanic in Burkina Faso. He’s also a bloody talented lad, because he’s written an absolutely beautiful LP full of Hi Life-style pop.
The opener, the airy Wend Nana Dounia, bubbles along in classic style and is indicative of the rest of the LP. The ingredients are simple, a mercurial guitar line backed by a backwash of sampled drums, washy synths and some very low key bass lines are sometimes punctuated by brass and backing chorus; (check out the marvellous San Bi Willila, or Courons Courez).
The tinny sampled drums on the tracks only add to the record, I don’t know precisely why, but they work. Maybe its Hermas’s ever-optimistic outlook on things, but tracks that shouldn’t work such as Wissi Ni Di Sara are a joy to listen to. And whilst there are reflective songs (Porquoi Tant de Soucis) that have a plaintive side to them, nothing is ever mawkish or morbid. Attention!, possibly my fave track on the record starts off in the most clichéd manner imaginable - replete with vocoder, Mark Knopfler guitar runs and simulated finger clicks – but becomes the most affecting hymn to his own religious faith.
A live demo LP is diverting, but is in total contrast to the pop being just Hermas and a guitar.
In summary, a fantastic LP and a great example of good-time music.
Words: Richard Foster