Blick Bassy today releases a new single, ‘Nop’, the latest to be lifted from his forthcoming new album, ‘Madíbá’, due out on May 26, 2023 via InFiné (Sabrina Bellaouel). His fourth album, ‘Madiba’ is sung in the Baasa language of France-based Bassy’s native Cameroon. It follows acclaimed 2019 album ‘1958’ (winner of the Sacem World Music Grand Prize & Songlines’ Best African Album, which honoured Cameroon’s efforts to overthrow French colonial rule), a collaboration with Disclosure and the publication of Blick’s award-winning debut novel. ‘Nop’ is now streaming across all platforms from here.
Titled after the word for water in the Douala language of Cameroon, ‘Madíbá’ brings together twelve songs in the form of fables, dedicated to the theme of water. Blick Bassy’s albums have always been characterised by a humanist, universal dimension, and ‘Madíbá’ is no exception, considering global climate crisis and issues surrounding access to water, without issuing moralising speeches. The fables of the album, all created by Blick, explore in a more concrete way different themes related to water – its rarity, its energy, its vital power. Most sobering of all, it highlights human destruction of living elements essential to our survival.
Glistening, brass-flecked new single release ‘Nop’ celebrates the uncomplicated joy that comes with longed for rainfall following a period of drought. The track mines a particularly nostalgic seam for Blick, informed by memories of growing up in rural Cameroon:
Rain occupies an important space in the unfolding of my memories, notes Blick. As a child, my brothers and I looked forward to the rainy season. We couldn’t wait to get undressed and enjoy the big drops that fell on our bare skin. Running after each other, we heard our mothers’ voice, in the distance, muffled by the pleasant song of the rain, reminding us that whoever fell ill would get in trouble. We celebrated in our own way.
‘Nop’ follows lead-off single ‘Hola Mè’ (meaning ‘Help Me’), which surveys the damage wrought on access to clean, safe water by human interference. Blick supported the NGO water.org (co-founded by Matt Damon) around the single release, using his platforms to raise awareness of the global water crisis, and the work water.org is doing to provide people with access to safe water and sanitation.
Musically, ‘Madíbá’ takes Blick in a new direction, spurred by a love of James Blake and Bon Iver to relocate his voice in electronic textures with more spare instrumentation. The album – recorded between Paris, Biarritz and Quimper, produced and composed with Romain Jovion, also featuring arrangements by Malik Djoudi – lets Bassy’s voice dominate, carried by delicate guitar, synthesiser, bassoon and brass. The cuts are diaphanous and nevertheless modernist, and testify to a contemporary and poetic Africanity at the crossroads of soul, folk, and electro.
Born in 1974 in a village in the south-west of Cameroon, Blick Bassy grew up in Yaoundé, the country’s capital. Returning to his native village at the age of ten, he became acquainted with traditional customs & culture, and teaching himself music. This time encouraged Blick to found the group Macase, at the crossroads of jazz, soul, and Bantu culture. The group enjoyed success in Cameroon from their first album Etam (1996), followed by Doulou (2002), capped by an international tour of nearly 150 shows.
Bassy began his solo career with Léman (2009), recorded in Salif Keita’s studio, followed by Hongo Calling (2011), which explored the links between Africa and Brazil through the geography of slavery. In 2015, the album Akö revisited the life and legacy of bluesman Skip James, and allowed Bassy to reach a wider audience. This was consolidated with 1958 (2019), dedicated to the memory of Ruben Um Nyobe, hero of the Cameroonian anti-colonial resistance. 2016 saw the publication of Blick’s first novel Le Moabi Cinéma, winning the Grand Prix Littéraire d’Afrique Noire. In 2019, he collaborated with Disclosure, & the past two years have seen him tour with Bikutsi 3000, a music and dance show that he himself staged following an order from the Quai Branly Museum which was presented in Germany, Australia, Guyana and soon in the United States also.
You must log in to post a comment.