Blick Bassy is the new soul voice of Cameroon - soul in the sense of vocals that come from within. Bassy says: “The soul of my music isn’t so much in the words, it’s in the way of singing.
In fact, the melody is a mould for the words.” On his album Léman, the singer/ songwriter/ guitarist/ percussionist connects the music of Central and West Africa and mixes it with bossa nova, jazz and soul. Bassy’s guitar playing and intoxicating, soft voice are enriched by the kora, calabash and a double bass resulting in a unique, haunting sound which is velvety with subtle harmonies, yet also raw with groovy rhythms.
Léman was recorded in Salif Keita’s studio in Bamako, Mali, and in Bassy’s current hometown of Paris, and co-produced by Jean Lamoot (known for his work with Souad Massi, Salif Keita, Nneka and Kasse Mady Diabaté) and Jean-Louis Solans. It is Bassy’s first solo album, as well as his first album for the World Connection label. Blick explains, “Léman means ‘mirror’. For me a mirror is a reflection of what we are. You cannot lie in front of the mirror. You can also see behind you in a mirror. Léman is about my past, really, and about being African. I see the problems that Africa suffers from and cannot do anything. It’s one of the reasons why I sing in my own language, Bassa, which is one of the 260 Cameroonian languages that fewer and fewer children know how to speak. With that, cultures and traditions are lost forever. The song ‘Africa’ talks about these issues and is maybe the key song of the album. The same song also talks about the richness of Africa. You can only see all that when you take a little distance. Now that I live in Europe, I see clearly where I’m coming from.”
Blick continues, “Musically it’s interesting to use Bassa. Its specific intonation determines the melody. When I sing in Bassa, I make use of the proverbs in which the Bassa express themselves. They often have a literal sense but also a deeper meaning which you will only understand when you are initiated. For example, in the song ‘Masse’ I talk about ‘the owl that scratched my forehead’ which means as much as you’ve been struck by misfortune. But it won’t get me down because I feel I’m well protected by my forefathers!”