Blick Bassy

Blick Bassy – New album ‘M​á​dibá’ out now!


Blick Bassy reveals his 5th album ‘M​á​dibá’, a new poetic album dedicated to water and life, at the crossroad of soul, folk & electro→ Listen

Following the successes of Akö (2015) and 1958 (2019), singer and composer Blick Bassy is back with a fifth album, again sung in the Baasa language of Cameroon. Madíbá brings together twelve songs in the form of fables, dedicated to the theme of water, in which his high and angelic voice dominates, carried by delicate guitar, synthesizer melodies, and sober brass arrangements. The cuts are diaphanous and nevertheless modernist songs, which testify to a contemporary and poetic Africanity at the crossroads of soul, folk, and electro.

Blick Bassy’s albums have a humanist and universal dimension. His fifth and new solo album, titled Madíbá, which means water in the Douala language of Cameroon, comes in the form of songs close to the fable, in which Bassy explores “a theme shared by all” of water, the source of life. “It is a question here of showing a form of respect, of connecting with the living, of imagining through these titles a world in which we could live in coherence with our environment”.

The fables of the album, all born in the imagination of Blick, explore in a more concrete way different themes related to water, its rarity, its necessity, its energy or its vital power. The twelve songs all bring together a series of figures, animals, or various characters, embodied in turn by Blick Bassy. “I have fun stepping into the shoes of a bird, a cat conversing with an elephant, a flower worrying about its declining beauty, a monkey looking for a spring or a storyteller with his grandchildren. In these texts, water can even take on a human appearance.”

Beyond the tale, the texts of the album also refer to our climate crisis, or to the problems of access to water, a way for the artist to approach serious subjects through a poetic form which avoids didactic or moralizing speeches.

For Blick Bassy, this approach to the text is embodied through unique writing. The artist first sings in the Bassa language, one of the many languages of Cameroon, spoken by about two million people,out of a population of about twenty-seven million. If the artist draws a large part of his inspiration, his nature, his culture from it, he transforms the baasa into a language whose intonations and melodies are aimed at a wide audience. “I don’t think I belong to a particular African tradition,” he says. Usually, when the Bassa language is sung, it comes close to a spoken form, it is a language loaded with feet, information which evokes prosody and the long stories told by griots [a member of a class of traveling poets, musicians, and storytellers who maintain a tradition of oral history in parts of West Africa]. My way of writing my native language, and singing it, is very different and has often surprised members of my ethnic group. My desire has always been to get out of my community to reach a wider audience. And to do this, I tried to work on my language with the help of a great economy of words, so that it rings true, that it blends with the melodies that I compose, so that we can ‘listen while forgetting that it is a language’.”

This temperance of the writing and words, which sung, seem to float, resonate, and slowly fade away over the course of the song, is accompanied by the same  onciseness in terms of composition and instrumentation. “I work the guitar as I work the voice and the language, confirms Blick Bassy.

Over the years, I feel more and more the importance of letting silence speak, of going to the essential, of managing to translate things with the minimum of possible elements, especially in an era saturated with information. Beauty is found in restraint. And then, the fact that I sing in a language that remains fairly unknown, encourages me to focus the meaning and emotion of my songs through the melody, which must be perceptible, strong, carried by silence. For me the important thing is first of all the voice that carries the emotion, it just has to be accompanied by a few elements that allow it to be sublimated”.

Beyond the guitar, his favorite instrument has been added to this new album—synthesizers, electronic effects, bassoon and brass (trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone), all played with the same economy of means and interpreted by musicians like Vianney Desplantes, Arno de Casanove et Fidel Fourneyron. Recorded between Paris, Biarritz and Quimper, Madíbá was produced and composed with Romain Jovion (his accomplice since the album AY of Ami Yerewolo), in which Malik Djoudi participated for some arrangements.

For this new album, Bassy and Jovion wanted to initiate a new musical direction, led by artists like James Blake, Bon Iver, and Ry X, who knew how to combine their soul or folk inspiration with more modern and electronic arrangements, as well as minimalist instrumentation. “By small touches, we have brought a certain electro modernity to this new album, seeing a more futuristic side” confirms Bassy. “I have always claimed my status as an African musician, but also the contemporary aspect of my approach. In African musical culture, there is unfortunately little of this type of work on the sound itself, on the exploration of new techniques. I would like to position myself as an African avant-garde artist who, with each of his new projects, offers new ideas in the treatment of sound and melody.” An approach that can be found on most of the titles of this new album such as ‘Séa’, ‘Bengue’, or ‘Metam’, as well as the first single, ‘Hola Mè’,, all of which bear witness to the right balance between Blick’s aerial voice, sober melodic lines composed on the guitar, discreet brass arrangements without forgetting the sustained notes of synthesizers which elevate this album devoted to the liquid element, something part between heaven and earth.

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