Franck Biyong's 9th album "Ki I Ye Yi" ("The one who doesn't know knows" in Basaa language), is a rare treat in the current Afro revival, blending the lost big band Central Africa tradition of the church choirs, national orchestras or military bands, with the urban 70s funk & afrobeat sound of the Paris Djs production powerhouse.
Franck Biyong is a Cameroonian musician, composer and singer, creator of the Afrolectric sound fusing Afrobeat, Electro-Funk, Avant-garde Jazz and rock sounds. The band Massak that Franck had formed in 1997, and toured with extensively for at least a decade, ended shortly after the release of the "Visions of Kamerun" album in 2010.”It was the end of a cycle. We had done everything we had to do together so, it was time to move on. Moreover, going to Africa to record and learn opened my eyes to new possibilities. I knew something in the music had to change", says Franck about the new directions showcased in this new album, undoubtedly the best endeavor of his already prolific catalog.
Recorded in Paris, "Ki I Ye Ye" is a dazzling feat of musical chops leaning towards the concise and hummable, presenting for the first time The Diamane Bantu Messengers, a brand new band formed with young Cameroonian musicians living in Paris. This is the beginning of a new adventure for Franck Biyong, and maybe the most accomplished ensemble playing of his career.
The core of this album's appeal is its effervescent interplay between roots driven beats and arrangement overdrive: "Fe Bain", also know as "Fai Mbu", is a frantic cover of the great late Cameroonian singer and trombonist Francis Ndom (originally released on the 1982 Afrovision compilation "Fleurs Musicales du Cameroun"). Pride in roots, culture and color infuse tracks such as the Afrobeat groove of "Ndjoke", a vibrant tribute to Manu Dibango, and the Bikutsi Ewondo rhythms of "Jerry Malekani". Hectic horns enhance a description of the gritty chaos of his home on "C.F.A Music", a criticism of the neo colonial realities of our times, still ruling all over Africa today.
Numerous guests are also featured on "Ki I Ye Yi": the grainy voices of Désiré Nkouandou, Soraya Ebelle, Emilio Bissaya and Oloo Bwemba enlivens the delicate interplay on the lengthiest songs. Subtle playing by musicians such as tenor saxophone player Ben Abarbanel-Wolff (Ebo Taylor, Afrobeat Academy) and Paris-based Les Frères Smith's horn section spotlights some rich and thumping harmonic options.
You'll hear in this album a true anthology of Central Africa's polyrhythms and melodies blessed with a solid and sophisticated production, a celebration of diverse influences, driven by a heavyweight spatial sound, the missing link between the bold roughness of Fela Kuti and the melodic sophistication of Manu Dibango.
Produced & Arranged by Franck Biyong
Remastering: Benjamin Lafont