Releasing an album into the world is a special moment for any artist but when you’re an artist who grew up in remote northern Ghana with no schooling, spending a life herding cows and goats, building your own instruments and teaching yourself to sing, then there’s a particular sense of occasion and celebration in finding recognition and an audience for that music.
This is the case for Guy One, an utterly unique artist who is writing and performing Frafra music, a style that originates from a small area in the north of Ghana. Whilst Guy One is already loved and adored locally by now – building up a fervent following in local villages in which no funeral or wedding would take place without his soaring voice and deeply rhythmic playing, before then transforming into an award-winning, TV appearing artist in Ghana – his music is now to find a much wider audience through Max Weissenfeldt’s Philophon label (Jimi Tenor, Hailu Mergia, Alemayehu Eshete) on this Berlin meets Bolgatanga release.
Guy One's international debut #1 is an album rooted in tradition as much as it is the contemporary ("Frafra music Made in Germany" says drummer producer Max Weissenfeldt if he's forced to put a label on it) but given the fact that the traditionalism of Frafra music itself is a largely unknown force, the results are more even more potent and stirring in their creations. Choirs, trumpet, organ, bass, drums, synthesiser, vibraphone, saxophone and piano, the album is as bursting with instrumentation as it is ideas and innovation.
The album's perfect positioning between the old and the new and in taking that middle ground and launching it into completely new territory is enough to completely unglue the definitions of what music can be.