Artist: Blick Bassy
Genre: World Fusion, Ethnic Jazz
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Ngui Yi 3:15
Sango Ngando 2:57
Bès Na Wé 3:14
Where We Go 2:31
With his haunting, soulful voice, Blick Bassy has become one of Africa’s most inventive and distinctive singer-songwriters. Born in Cameroon, West Africa, he has worked in Brazil and is now based in a village in northern France. It’s here that he has developed a style mixing African, Latin and American musical influences, lyrics in the Cameroonian Bassa language (“in which I think, create and dream”), and backing that pitches his guitar and banjo work against cello and trombone. His last album, Akö, which included the upbeat Kiki, was concerned with migration and education, and inspired, he said, by the great Mississippi blues guitarist Skip James. 1958 is more of a concept work. It’s dedicated to the memory of one of Bassy’s political heroes, Ruben Um Nyobé, the anti-colonial leader who addressed the United Nations, demanding independence for Cameroon, and was killed by French forces in September 1958.
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Bassy argues that he has never been properly recognised in the country and sets out to put that right. So there are songs praising Nyobé and his followers (who included Bassy’s grandfather) along with complaints that Cameroonians today have forgotten their history. The message may be angry, but the music is typically relaxed. Pochë, a rebuke to those who should “remember that you owe your comfort only to those who sacrificed themselves for us”, is a gently tuneful, pained lament, while Sango Ngando, the story of an “unemployed flirt”, sets a weary vocal against rippling guitar and cello. Elsewhere, he adds keyboards to the mix on Ngwa, and revives his Skip James influences on the bluesy, brassy Bès Na Wé. 1958 may not demonstrate the full vocal range that Bassy displays on stage, but it’s a reminder that he is one of Africa’s most important new artists.
by Robin Denselow