· Riviere Noire ·
It was all an accident. Or was it? Riviere noire story began in 2009. At the time, everyone had already demonstrated its dazzling talent, reached the end of a journey. Then an impalpable, yet deep push brought Pascal, Jean and Orlando together, each one of them bringing his own musical experience, intuition, and generosity.
Orlando first expressed his crave for Africa. The Brazilian singer had always enriched his life with beautiful musical encounters. He’d recorded nine albums, had worked with Caetano Veloso, Maria Bethania and several other international artists. Always, talent and openness guided his steps and choices, his voice , graceful and fragile, powerful yet warm. Riviere Noire: The place where he could let the melodies and words pour over him completely, in the most organic way, eyes closed, back to the beginning of things, just like chanting. Freedom. Orlando met Pascal, whose first album solo he’d enjoyed so much!
Pascal, guadeloupean singer-songwriter / guitarist , globetrotter, claimed a passion for the blues, that of Ry Cooder and Ali Farka Toure. His compositions intimate and stripped right down to the essence bear the stamp of a soft and enveloping melancholy, the smile of malian people. His ancestors? Pascal, suggested immediately to associate Jean Lamoot to the project. They’ve had a great time working together on Souad Massi’s album “Mesk Elil”.
Jean, the goldsmith. He ‘d produced plethora of great albums, French and international: Mr. Bashung, Noir Desir, Salif Keita, Nneka to only name a few… Sound engineer, producer, and bass player, he could make a record sound really modern yet timeless, like a classic. However, his desire to compose, play, and be part of a band was never fulfilled…There was his chance! Besides, Jean had left a part of himself in Africa .The pale skin boy, son of expatriates, who had spent his childhood between Burundi Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Rwanda was dying to go home.
The first time, Orlando, Pascal and Jean got together in Jean’s studio, at Ferber, Paris. They barely spoke and almost immediately began to play together. Five songs were composed and recorded within hours.
Riviere Noire was born.
The call of Mali was already being felt, its breath inhabited each song. It became obvious that the next chapter would be written there… The band settled for 10 days in Salif Keita’s studio Moffou, in Bamako.
This was Orlando’s first time in Africa. Pascal had come to Mali some 15 years ago.
It was all natural for Jean to lead the way. He had worked many times in that studio. He personally knew the local musicians and artists, therefore immediately giving a nice family reunion vibe to the recordings. The chemestry continued…
In Mali, perceptions are different, magnified. It is a great place to draw closer to your heart and secret feelings. As the heat forces you to slow down all your senses break lose. You step back though more open and aware than ever. Soaking in the wonders around.
One of those wonders was meeting singer Bako Dagnon.
She is a griot, a beautiful old Malian woman whose simple sight calls for respect. There is so much love in her smiling eyes that you want to call her Mum or Grandma, she is family. She walks in the studio right after lunch break, when everybody is dozing and there it is! Millenniums of african cultural history in one single person! Right away, whilst listening to the track, she starts singing, as loud and intense as for a stadium gig, blowing everyone away, shaking souls.Tears roll down… This is only the beginning of an unique emotional journey. One by one, Iconic griots as Kassemady Diabate and younger generation of Malian singers such as Altine Tamboura, Yakou instinctively merge their voices, their stories, their instruments to the trio’s fabric.. Each piece has its own breathing, its own dynamics, and heat, inherent to Mali and its people seems to instill an eternal glow. Frenzy follows peace. Refinement ,roughness. Space, huge sky, infinity, and the river, majestic, stretches and holds time helping the trio in their so human and musical quest. Negra Mali, Abarika, Bate Longe and so many more titles. Portuguese, creole and dialects together speak of love, ancient memories, the salty taste of tears, light and hope too…
Among those, Bate longe is a very special song. It was written 20 mins before guest singer Kasse Mady Diabate walked in the studio. Recorded live immediately. Only a main power cut during the first take forces a second one. And there it was! Like an angel had passed by… Chovendo, a very powerful song, about warm summer rain, rebirth of mankind and nature, like a given second chance. Filled with hope and optimism to pull one through hard times. Each single song seems to carry both this universal and intimate dimension. This is what Riviere Noire are about.
End of 2011, Riviere Noire have already set for Brazil through several TV appearances and a live DVD recording by the lakeside in Brasilia. The band recorded 2 new songs in Paris and will soon meet its European audience. Their eponymous debut album is due september the 23rd of 2013.
The river, meanwhile, keeps flowing. Thanks to Jean, Orlando and Pascal, you can finally feel it, flowing within yourself, comforting proof, in these troubled times, that you are still very much alive…