Distinguished trio Toto Bona Lokua have announced release details for their new album, ‘Bondeko’, due out on January 19 2018 through French label Nø Førmat!. A collaboration between Gerald Toto, Richard Bona and Lokua Kanza, ‘Bondeko’ is the long-awaited follow up to their much-praised debut release, 2004’s ‘Totobonalokua’. The group are trailing the announcement with the first single to emerge from the album, the irresistibly swaying ‘Ma Mama’.
Upon release ‘Totobonalokua’ was hailed as a landmark in crossing boundaries and traditions and blending languages and ancestral cultures. The record they made together became a word-of-mouth sensation, particularly in France, where it sold impressively, despite little promotion and no supporting tour dates.
As the years went by and the three pursued their diverse solo projects, each was repeatedly asked when they were going to reunite to make another album. Although their paths seldom crossed, the three kept in touch, until Gerard Toto eventually suggested that it might be time to pick up the story again, with Richard Bona and Lokua Kanza readily agreeing. It took time to synchronise three very full diaries, but the trio eventually found a window to come together to record Bondeko. Fittingly the word translates as ‘friendship’ or ‘fraternity’ in the Congolese language of Lingala, one of the many tongues spoken by our cosmopolitan trio.
Released like its predecessor on Nø Førmat! and produced by label founder Laurent Bizot, Bondeko picks up where Totobonalokua left off, yet more nuanced and finely detailed. Crafted but without artifice, virtuosic yet spontaneous, it’s a record which is both playful and profound. Sensual melodies and swaying rhythms overlap, as roots intersect and three distinctive musical personalities melt into one, their voices combining as felicitously as the exquisite harmonies of Crosby, Stills and Nash or the unique vocal layerings of Bobby McFerrin.
Sometimes collaborative recordings involving great artists can end up disappointingly sounding like less than the sum of their parts. Toto, Bona and Kanza sound like they were born to play together. A trinity of voices entwined as one, multi-faceted and yet with a united vision.
Friendship. Fraternity. Bondeko.
Listen to Ma Mama below:
Pre-order ‘Bondeko’ here
Lokua Kanza was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, began his career playing in rumba bands but has a conservatoire training. Over half a dozen solo albums, he has established himself as one of the continent’s most elegant troubadours and a thoroughly modern griot singing variously in Swahili and Lingala, as well as in French and English.
Gerald Toto was born in France to Caribbean Creole parents from the Antilles. An audacious world music adventurer, in addition to recording his own atmospheric and experimental albums, he’s worked with artists as diverse as the Algerian rai singer Faudel and Parisian hipsters Nouvelle Vague.
Richard Bona was born in Cameroon, a virtuosic multi-instrumentalist who began playing at the age of four. His 2005 solo album Tiki was nominated for a Grammy award and he’s collaborated with many of the world’s top stars from John Legend and Bobby McFerrin to Quincy Jones.
Nø Førmat! is an independent record label based in Paris and founded in 2004 by renowned music producer Laurent Bizot. Founded on the epithet that ‘you never know in advance what you’ll fall in love with’, the label seeks to invest in original musical projects and has built a reputation for releasing
albums which are superbly recorded and packaged with style. Spanning styles from rap, jazz and
reggae to Brazilian pop, the label has released critically acclaimed albums by the most diverse range of artists including Oumou Sangaré, Chilly Gonzales, Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Ségal, Kassé Mady Diabaté and Melissa Laveaux.