"Noir et Blanc"
CD
1. M'Pasi Ya M'Pamba
4. Munipe Wa Kati
5. Eh! Yaye
6. Mama Lenvo
7. Lamuka

An unsurpassed milestone in European/African fusion, this is a head-on collision between traditional Central African vocals and uncompromising analog electronics. Resulting from a torrid encounter between Congolese singer Bony Bikaye, Algerian-born French composer Hector Zazou and mad scientists CY1, this album was acclaimed by the international music press, has influenced scores of artists, and remains astonishingly fresh to this day.


Noir & Blanc : a report from the studio

Hector Zazou came to Brussels to record this album at Daylight Sudios in June '83. With him were Congolese singer Bony Bikaye, and Guillaume Loizillon & Claude Micheli, two Frenchmen who immediately proceeded to set up their wall-sized analog computers. These beasts dated back to the early '70s, and seemed monstrous and antediluvian even then... Loizillon & Micheli (aka CY1) were strange characters: they looked and talked somewhat like electricians or garage mechanics, they kept plugging and unplugging thick wires, used screwdrivers and pliers, had a very down-to-earth approach, and used their own special vocabulary to describe the incredible sounds they were producing ("Hey, let's make the Chinese hat more pointed !"). Zazou acted like a director, selecting the textures, building up the dramatic action. Bikaye built his parts into the grooves and added layers and layers of vocals. Several other ingredients were added as they went along (acoustic percussion by ex-Aksak Maboul man Chris Joris, guitars by Vincent Kenis, horn arrangements, and Fred Frith's violin & guitar: he happened to play a concert in Brussels that week and was invited to come to the studio). A good deal of structuring took place during the mixdown: there was no automation at the time, so several pairs of hands (Vincent's, engineer Gilles Martin's and Marc Hollander's in this particular case) had to keep hovering over the mixing board, opening and closing tracks, sending instruments into effects, all in real time, dub-style... an exciting process which left a lot of room for accidents and unpredictable sonic events.


The album was extremely well received. It was frequently compared to the few other modern African or ethno/experimental releases of the previous few years, but what was unique in Noir et Blanc was the radical encounter between abstract, analog electronics and Bikaye's fairly traditional vocal styles, as well as the fact that these elements were woven together by the participants during the recording sessions, which gave the music a quasi-organic feel. It seems that very few successful experiments like that have been conducted since then. Zazou Bikaye later became a proper touring band, adopted a more electro/funk sound, recorded two more albums and split up in 1988.

From "The ‘80s According To Crammed - A Diary" (included in  the Crammed Global Soundclash boxed set)



Press

"One of the most innovative LPs of the year... in the same class as Byrne and Eno's "Bush Of Ghosts"... resembles the startling outcome of an imaginary collaboration between DAF and Fela Kuti" (Melody Maker, UK, '83)

"Fela Kuti-meets-Kraftwerk-on-the-dancefloor" (International Musician, USA, '86)

" A dream factory amalgam of African rhythms and European electronics" (Melody Maker, UK, '84)

"Computers meet Zairean tribal rhythms in the ultimate hi-tech ethnic programme" (Black Music, UK, '84)


Album credits
 
Bony Bikaye: vocals:
CY1: electronics
Musical direction & arrangements: Hector Zazou

also appearing:
Vincent Kenis: guitars
Fred Frith:  violin, guitar on ‘Keba’
Marc Hollander: clarinets
Fred Wallich: saxophones
Chris Joris: percussion
JF Jones Jacob III: drums on ‘Dju Ya Feza’
Véronique Vincent, Sabine Mesdag: vocals on 'Munipe Wa Kati'


Recorded at Daylight Studio, Brussels, June 1983
Engineered by Gilles Martin
Mixed by Gilles Martin, Vincent Kenis & Marc Hollander

'M’Pasi Ya M’Pamba (remix)': additional production & mix by Marc Hollander, engineered by Gilles Martin. 
'Eh! Yaye (remix)': additional production & mix by Vincent Kenis.


Releases

ZAZOU BIKAYE - Noir et Blanc
ZAZOU BIKAYE
Noir et Blanc
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ZAZOU BIKAYE - Guilty
ZAZOU BIKAYE
Guilty
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ZAZOU BIKAYE - Mr Manager
ZAZOU BIKAYE
Mr Manager
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