Press Clipping
05/27/2016
Article
Eva Salina, Arsen Petrosyan, Moken: Around the World in Music

Moken is from Cameroon, but now lives in Atlanta. His debut, Chapters of My Life (Bantu Records) is a pan-African look at his life thus far: from Africa to broke fashionista at a Detroit design school to a working musician. It's an odd little release in many ways and definitely not your average Afropop recording. He counts among his influences Van Morrison, Nina Simone, and Manu Dibango. It's hard to hear much Morrison on this record other than short rock riffs every now and then, as on "Wiating for the Day," the sunniest track in the collection, but Dibango and Simone are in evidence. Dibango is a Cameroonian saxophonist famed for fusing jazz, funk, and folk‚Äďand Chapters of My Life certainly has that vibe. "Ma Masse," for instance, is done in the style of a Senegalese mbalax, but in a more dramatic less danceable style than most mbalax offerings. Two songs, "Machine Man" and "Walkin Man" reference Moken's impoverished student days when he occasionally lived in his car. The second tune has a suitably robotic feel to mark a time in which his car left him stranded 10 miles from his destination. You can definitely hear Simone's influence in Moken, especially his preference for material that is sultry, soulful, and meditative. As in the case of Petroysan, though, I'd recommend you sample before you buy. My overall sense is that Chapters of My Life is an incomplete project with filler and a few songs short of completion. There is promise here, but the repertoire could use some work.