New French label Into The Deep Treasury have launched and their debut release is a mind bending selection of wonderment – Ogooué – selects François N’Gwa’s finest pieces made between 1985 and 2004, as well as two unreleased tracks, carefully restored and remastered on 180g vinyl. The beautiful hand-painted cover is also fitting to the artistry of an African visionary – the music infuses traditions of N’Gwa’s native Gabon with electronics and field recordings, producing an immersive blend of genre melding mastery. Acoustic guitars, atmospheric samples, tribal harmonies and high quality production values make this an essential reissue for modern times – potentially giving an artist, famous in his home country, new global appeal.
“After a couple of months of research, we managed to track down François N’Gwa with the help of the Gabonese writer Cheryl Tanda, with whom he collaborated back in 2017,” the label explains. “We finally met François in the heart of a popular northern Parisian neighbourhood in the autumn of 2018. Since the early 80’s, multi-instrumentalist and deep voice singer François N’Gwa has been jamming on instruments, synthesisers, and later with music production software to blend harmonic traditional Gabonese music together with more contemporary sounds taken from jazz, soul and pop influences close to his heart.”
“Considered as a star in his native country, François N’Gwa has not yet known massive success on an international scale, likely due to him steering away from profitable collaborations with music industry majors. This has allowed him to remain a genuine artist and an artisan of melodies and harmonies who has made his own path. As a deeply committed artist, François N’Gwa shares his attachment to his homeland with great emotion. Currently living between Paris and Libreville, he does his best to bring messages of hope to the Gabonese population through his wise lyrics and during his live concerts.”
Ogooué is described as a tribute to the main river of Gabon which stretches across the country, drawing its source from the Congo and flowing into the Atlantic ocean. The theme of landscapes and nature runs throughout his work. The optimism and hope in his compositions, combined with soundscapes and modern adaptation of his Gabonese heritage, create an ethereal quality to the music. It’s one of the most exciting reissues of African music this year. The ambient strains, high production value and genre fusing aspects, sit this one alongside other African forays into electronics around this period – such as the cassettes of Jay U Experience from the 1990s, recently compiled on Abuja by Melbourne’s Left Ear Records.
N’Gwa was born in Port-Gentil, Gabon. He moved to Libreville for his high school diploma and finally to Paris to study sociology at university and was exposed to the music world throughout. In 1985, he produced his first single entitled Eliwa/Alibi through which he pays tribute to his native country with lyrics sung in local dialects Myene and Fang. In 1986, he released his second single entitled N’Gondjet/Odette delving into a more cosmic sound through the use of hypnotic and trippy percussion, guitar and synth sounds. Fascinated by sound and acoustics, he founded his home studio, ‘N’Gômi & Ibogha Songs’ alongside his production work. It enabled him to provide sound systems for multiple public and private events, such as the Fete Nationale de la Culture, Fenacult in Angola. His first album N’Kang was released in the latter part of 1990. Second album La Panthère a pleuré gave the artists well-deserved recognition to enable touring in France (Unesco, New Morning), Europe and his beloved Gabon.
Between 2000 and 2011 onwards, he recorded albums Nani… ! (2004) and Mandolo Songs (2011). N’Gwa is currently completing a new album from his Paris home studio, merging African music with rock and blues influences. The vinyl compilation is released on November 25th. For more, click below to visit the Into The Deep website: