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World Music CD Reviews Africa

The La Drivers Union Por Por Group

By John Kuhlman
Published September 28, 2007

Por Por: Honk Horn Music Of Ghana
Smithsonian Folkways

This is another fascinating collection put together by the peripatetic world-music producer Steven Feld— recordings of a band of Ghanaian musicians, whose primary instrument is the squeeze bulb klaxon horn. The music, as the exhaustive booklet that comes with the disc explains, has long been the provenance of a union of truck drivers in Ghana, and has its origins in the noisy, rhythmic sounds they made while fixing flat tires on distant jungle roads, in order to scare off possible predators. (American Teamsters have it easy, no?) Eventually, this utilitarian music making grew into formal ensembles, playing their music at the funeral processions of fellow drivers, and when the rough, chaotic squawking of their horns rises up amidst the taut vocal and percussive workouts on this disc, like a flock of geese slowly lifting off from the surface of a lake. It’s genuinely like no music you’ve ever heard before.