In recognition of World Water Day Blick Bassy announces the release details for his 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 after his acclaimed 2019 album 1958 (winner of the SACEM World Music Grand Prize & Songlines’ Best African Album, which pays homage to Cameroon’s efforts to overthrow French colonial rule), a collaboration with Disclosure and the publication of Blick’s award-winning debut novel.
Titled after the word for water in the Douala language of Cameroon, Madíbá brings together 12 songs in the form of fables, dedicated to the theme of water. Released today on World Water Day, poignant new single release "Hola Mè" (meaning "Help Me") surveys the damage wrought on access to clean, safe water by human interference. Blick is also supporting 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. "Hola Mè" is now streaming from here.
Blick Bassy's albums have always been characterized by a humanist, universal dimension, and Madíbá is no exception, considering global climate crisis and issues surrounding access to water, without issuing didactic or moralizing speeches. The fables of the album, all created by Blick, explore in a more concrete way different themes related to water, its rarity, its necessity as a source of life, its energy or its vital power.
Speaking about the intention behind Madíbá, Blick says: "I am neither a color nor a nationality, but one of the different water-based forms. My last album, 1958, was about the war of independence waged by our fathers and mothers against the French army. This led me to question the feelings that can lead us to the point of sometimes committing the worst. This approach led me in an obvious way to the cause of our decline: the relationship of subordination and exploitation that we have established between ourselves, humans and other living beings. From this unhealthy relationship comes the destruction of the living elements essential to our survival.
"How can we display our role as contributors while ignoring the living? How can we love the traveler from distant lands without love for the living around us? So I said to myself that in order to live in osmosis with my surroundings, I should perhaps start by discovering and loving all living things, whatever their form and matter. This quest for love is the reason for this album."
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 high voice dominate, carried by delicate guitar, synthesizer, bassoon and sober brass (trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone) 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.
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 10, he became acquainted with traditional customs and 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), crowned 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, and 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.
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