Bibi Tanga’s magic potion
Now, the Central African’s fifth album
Despite being imbued with the influence of current events and their tragic character, Now, the fifth album by the Central African musician Bibi Tanga, is not just a work of circumstance. Nor is it a simple afro-funk album. Beyond words and labels, the Banui-born singer-bass player who now lives in France succeeds in channelling and distilling his influences.
The raw, focused reggae running through Calling, which opens this fifth album, brings some pleasant surprises that flow on naturally from Tanga’s repertoire. “I couldn’t understand why reggae hadn’t turned up in my music yet. I’d done everything I could to make it come out, but I hadn’t managed until now,” claims the musician. The keen fan of Curtis Mayfield can see what Bob Marley got out of it.
Although he considers that the basic ingredients of his output haven’t changed in fourteen years, since his début Le Vent qui soufflé, he has discovered an ideal filter to sound out his influences “in a more assertive way”: African music, rock, pop, new wave, and of course funk, which is often associated with this cousin of the Malka Family – some of whose members join him in the group Gréements de Fortune to perform live every Saturday on the TV programme Salut les Terriens!
On this new project, the change also involves the bass-player/singer’s team: his familiar Sélénites, including the emblematic Professeur Inlassable, have gone, with the happy exception of long-standing guitarist Rico "Adiko" Kerridge. The result is more “about instrumentalists, with old-style studio work, and a sound engineer back in the group,” said Bibi Tanga.
The dramatic current events have added to his concern for his country, the Central African Republic, and especially the issue of widespread weapons, which he sings about on Ngombe. This track, which starts off with the sound of gunfire, is based on “the state of fear” Tanga hears in the voices of his family when he speaks to them on the phone. A weighty atmosphere beautifully conveyed by his afrobeat groove.
Bibi Tanga Now (Jazz Village / Harmonia Mundi) 2014
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