"HONGO CALLING" - BLICK BASSY (Scandinavia exclusively)
- artist:BLICK BASSY (Scandinavia exclusively)
- featured artist:BLICK BASSY
- release year:2011
- audio file / digital
- CD (Compact Disc)
- record submitted by:
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CD Review: Blick Bassy - Hongo Calling (World Connections)
Singer, guitarist and percussionist Blick Bassy may be little known in the UK at the moment, but hopefully the release of his second solo album, Hongo Calling (available from May 10th on World Connection), will draw some much deserved attention to him. Originally from Cameroon and now living near Paris, Bassy embraces influences from all over the world. This album takes the slave route from Cameroon to Brazil, picking up musical directions along the way.
Bassy draws strong musical parallels between the two countries; particularly aligning the Brazilian samba with music and rhythms that he grew up with, such as Assiko, which originates from the Bassa people in Cameroon. As a driving force for the album this works exceptionally well, pushing each track into new and interesting directions and mixing instruments and sounds that are rarely recorded together.
Bassy's tender and rather youthful voice gently warms every track on Hongo Calling. Backing vocals are sympathetic to his delicate tones and the production is great - nothing is allowed to overpower the rhythm and the vocals. However, this control doesn't stop the music reaching beautiful climaxes, always with an underlying swinging sense of calm which weaves through from one song to the next.
The beautifully formed 'Liké' opens the album with a cuica drum, often used in Brazilian samba music. The energy this high-pitched drum opens with is echoed throughout the rest of the music and the dance rhythm sets the album off on its journey with percussive flutes adding melody to the beat. Despite the specific theme of Hongo Calling, this doesn't restrict variety. The quiet lullabies and love songs bring a needed contrast to the upbeat samba music that keeps the album fresh and enjoyable.
Celebration of song
There are some real stand-out tracks on the album that you'll find yourself humming. The brilliant chord changes behind the pulsing African rhythm in 'Bolo Mo' shift the melody about wonderfully, throwing it off its feet and lending the song a different shading. Equally, 'Fala Portugues' feels like a celebratory song, modestly hidden near the end of the album. Its upbeat chorus and cascading guitar backing create the structure over which the rhythm of the vocals can shift around, emphasizing different parts of the phrase each time it comes around.
The familiarity of the Brazilian samba makes Hongo Calling really accessible and provides a neat introduction to the less familiar Cameroonian Assiko. A couple of tracks are a bit on the short side, but these generally act as simpler interludes to the longer exploratory fusion pieces. Compared to Bassy's previous solo album, Leman, which was more of a song book, Hongo Calling turns the emphasis back on the instruments and traditional rhythms; allowing their sounds to drive the songwriting.
There are some really lovely songs on this album. Bassy has proved that he is not only possesses a gorgeous voice, but he is also a great songwriter.
a sideways glance at London's classical, jazz and world music scenes