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Muntu Valdo at Roman Road Festival Summer 2016
Sunday 24 July, 2016 @ 4:30 am - 5:30 pmFree
We’ve just added Muntu Valdo to our music line-up – one of the most unique African voices mixing blues, jazz and soul with futuristic technological sounds and invented instruments. This is a rare chance to hear an established artist playing near his home in East London.
Sawa blues is the term that Valdo himself has coined for his own music, and at the root of many songs is rhythmic and melodic sensibility that flows from the rich wellspring of timeless Cameroonian folk music, but this base is enriched by a wide range of idioms that are part of the African Diaspora, from Brazilian samba to American soul and jazz. If, on accasion, Muntu Valdo recalls the iconic Tres Pontas troubadour Milton Nascimento that may well be because he has found a way into his world through the motherland roots upon which it stands.
Yet there are distinct western sensibilities that pervade The One & The Many, be it the languorous blues resonances and melancholic trills of harmonica that reflect the singer’s enduring allegiance to a universal folk balladry that would count the two Bobs, messieurs Dylan and Marley, as much as a certain Stevie Wonder, a man who also knows something of the art of homme orchestre.
As is a case with these illustrious figures, Muntu Valdo attaches great importance to words and ideas as well as music. The One & The Many has a cogent emotional, spiritual and philosophical subtext that builds upon the artist’s debut Gods & Devils, which cast a shrewd, penetrating eye upon the duality at the earth of every human being. Each and every one of us has the potential to be divinity and demon, light and dark, selfless and selfish. The One & The Many addresses solidarity and the complex relationship between individual and collective in many different ways, exploring the fact that a single entity is born of many sources.
Behind the enigmatic title of his new album, the one & the many, lies a musical, philosophical and spiritual quest. Performing alchemy on his guitar, bass, harmonica and vocals, beating the percussion rhythm with the help of strings, pedals, synthesizers and his other “special” instruments. Valdo appropriates all kinds of technological gear and futurist ingredients and uses them to give body to his sensuous, fleshy “roots” music. Along with this magic spell that transforms a solo musician into a whole band, the artist has developed a metaphysical side to his work. ANNE-LAURE LEMANCEL – RFI MUSIC
The crowd were treated to Muntu Valdo’s guitar magic. Sauntering on stage with a springy step, softly picking at his guitar and blowing in his harmonica, he resembled a youthful, latter-day Bob Dylan. But his music is from a different stream. Using a box of tricks to double-track his guitar and voice live, he added layers of sound to create full-textured, soft songs about peace, love and Cameroonian witchcraft and charmed the audience. MARK ESPINER – THE FINANCIAL TIMES