Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Musicians' Musician




Back in the 80s Toto Guillaume ("Toguy") was a ubiquitous session musician on recordings coming out of Cameroun. The great guitarist and arranger first made a splash in the '70s alongside François Nkotti and Emile Kangue in the influential group Black Styl. His first solo hit "Françoise" was released in 1974, followed by "Mba Na We" in 1975. Together with the bassist and producer Aladji Touré, Manu Dibango, Emmanuel Nelle Eyoum and others, Guillaume played a pivotal role in crafting the modern makossa sound based on the traditional rhythms of the Douala region.

Among his albums, Toguy's 1985 release Elimbi na Ngomo (TN Productions TN 591) is justly famed, but I've always had a soft spot for 1983's Makossa Digital (Disques Esperance ESP 8404), with its
lush strings and brilliant arrangements. A true pinnacle of makossa!

Makossa began to fade in the late '80s, a victim of its own formulaic sound, but for a time it was Congo music's main rival for the affections of African music fans. Toto Guillaume too dropped out of sight around this time, but I understand he's been making a comeback in recent years.

Enjoy Makossa Digital, and I promise I will make Elimbi na Ngomo available also sometime in the future:

Toto Guillaume - Mundende Mwa Bedimo

Toto Guillaume - Mulema Mwa Muna

Toto Guillaume - Bata Ba Nunga

Toto Guillaume - Paï 'a Nyambe

Toto Guillaume - Ewes' Am

And, because Makossa Digital, like most Camerounian releases of the era, is much too short, here's a "bonus track" from 1983's wonderful 3-disc compilation Fleurs Musicales du Cameroun (Afrovision FMC 001/002/003):

Toto Guillaume - Seto Nyola

Download Makossa Digital (+ "Seto Nyola") as a zipped file here.
A technical note: I haven't been posting many vinyl rips here lately because the stylus on my turntable was way past its expiration date, and I didn't want to harm my treasured old LPs. But listening to Makossa Digital and other rips I've made since getting a new stylus it's apparent how much sound quality I had been sacrificing with that old needle as well. I'd like to re-rip and re-upload much of the old material but that's obviously going to take a while. In the meantime I'd appreciate your input. When I processed Makossa Digital I tweaked the high frequencies upwards just a little bit as it seemed to add a fair bit of clarity to the sound. However, I'm aware that my hearing is not what it used to be, and what sounds fine to me may be hopelessly screechy to others. So, let me know. Input from people with a background in audio engineering is especially appreciated.

1 comment:

rickmp3s said...

Thanks John!
Do you have a handle at RYM?