Some years ago I posted the LP Pre-Festival Lagos 77, featuring tracks from a number of Guinean orchestras who were in competition to appear at the memorable Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, or FESTAC '77, which was held in Lagos in 1977.
One of these groups was the memorable Nimba de N'Zérékoré, based in Guinea's second city. The group also released an album on their own in 1980, Gön Bia Bia (Syliphone SLP 71), which I present today. From the French liner notes I take it these songs are based on traditional initiation rites. Since I don't know French and don't have access to anyone who does at the moment, I've depended on Google Translate to render these. The results, while hardly "vernacular" English, are oddly poetic! For instance, this passage by producer Justin Morel Junior:
This disc is an ethnology page.Comments on the songs likewise are from the liner notes, via Google Translate.
It retraces moments of initiation. The initiation marks in the traditional society the passage of the child-adolescence the maturity, at the age of responsibility.
"Initiation is understood as a set of practices aimed at communicating to the individual necessary for his proper integration into society. In short, all the moral patrimony of the group that is transmitted on the occaision of initiation":
GÖN BIA BIA", the essential title of this disc, celebrates the departure for the initiatory camp. The merit of the Nimba musicians of the City of N'zérékoré, is to have been able to transpose the sounds with fidelity. Foresters: these hoarse voices, these phoned rhythms, these tiered horns that reproduce an endearing forest atmosphere. At the end of listening to these songs, we can no longer doubt the words of the conductor of Nimba, Samaké Namakan: "the mysteries of the forest can be mastered in music"
Gön Bia Bia - "This song tells of the departure for the initiation camp. Blowers shine, guitarists sparkle. Beautiful stereo dialogue blowers. Sovereign intervention of tenor KOUI BAMBA. Warming!"
Le Nimba de N'Zérékoré - Gön Bia Bia
Kori Magnin - "Literally: 'Fatigue is Dangerous.' In the deep meaning it is about 'deprivation.' The solo guitar breaks loose and screams its revolt in enflamed notes."
Le Nimba de N'Zérékoré - Kori Magnin
Ziko - "Call singing telephoned and answered with passion."
Le Nimba de N'Zérékoré - Ziko
Babaniko - "This is the favorite piece of the orchestra. Taken with warmth, color and flavor, it is the song of exit of the initiation camp. Succulent dialogue of the wind. Broken voices. Rhythms cut. Spicy melodies."
Le Nimba de N'Zérékoré - Babaniko
Kongoroko - "The forest is resplendent and sunny. The secret forest, mysterious. The forest that thinks and dances! Stubborn rhythm. Rapacious music."
Le Nimba de N'Zérékoré - Kongoroko
Zoo Mousso - "Song of gratitude, reunion and rejoicing."
Le Nimba de N'Zérékoré - Zoo Mousso
Download Gön Bia Bia as a zipped file here. A technical note: this is one of the first albums I digitized a dozen years ago when I was first getting started with this blog. I hadn't yet mastered the software and there's a little clipping on some of the tracks. It's not too noticeable, though. My apologies.