NEW ALBUM- ‘SWAY’: OUT NOW
Envelops like a warm Caribbean breeze
Surreal and ethereal, breezy yet bold; a musical dreamscape that demands you to stop and stare
French-Antillean Gérald Toto has released a new video for ‘Away Alive’ the latest BBC 6Music and Worldwide FM-supported single lifted from his new album ‘Sway’, out now via Nø Førmat) and written, performed and produced single-handedly by Gérald. Watch here.
One of ‘Sway’’s most languid, transportive moments (with lyrics written by Jules Japhet), ‘Away Alive’ is now accompanied by a suitably surreal video, shot Tunisia’s endless Tozeur Desert. Captured by directors R&D and Paris-based production company La Sucrerie, the clip intersects with the track’s ideas of identity and freedom. Speaking about the making of the video, Toto says; “The desert is an allegorical dream. An inner space where one seems initially lost, without reference or bearings, before finding, within, an anchor point from which to walk. With a heart open to all encounters.”
As befits its title, Toto’s new album sways gently in the breeze, cool and elusive. Sway takes its listener on an imaginary journey to a world that has time to stop and stare, where the frenetic din of modernity is hushed to a murmur, Toto’s songs seemingly plucked from a place of timeless reverie. We last heard Gérald Toto on 2017 trio album Bondeko – recorded with Lokua Kanza and Richard Bona – which earned a run of four and five star reviews.
That record was the most recent chapter in a career of impressive pedigree. Born in France in 1967, Gérald Toto’s West Indian parents – hailing from the Antilles – were tax officials rather than musicians. But they were ardent music lovers, and their vinyl collection proved essential listening to a young Gérald, as the house in which he grew up vibrated to American soul, Afro-Caribbean dance music, Congolese soukous and makossa from Cameroon.
By ten, Gérald was playing the guitar & the bass – later, a student loan was used to finance the building of a home studio, where he progressed from laboratory assistant to a full-blown “mad scientist of sound”. Toto soon became an intrinsic part of the French underground as a pioneering world music aesthete. He’s also worked with artists including Algerian rai singer Faudel, Parisian hipsters Nouvelle Vague and the Middle Eastern electro futurists Smadj. In 2005, Toto collaborated for the first time with Lokua and Bona, a teaming that led to debut collaborative album Toto Bona Lokua, which caused a sensation in France where it became a big seller accompanied by a sell-out tour. The thriving solo careers of all three artists meant it would be a full 12 years before time was eventually found to record its equally well-received follow-up, Bondeko.
Gentle and lilting yet full of bold nuance, the songs Gérald has gathered on Sway refuse categorisation, a cultural melting pot of acoustic folk, jazz, soul, pop and blues that embrace Creole and Caribbean flavours. If quiet is the new loud, Gérald Toto’s voice is blessed with an eloquence that demands to be heard, as his gently insistent songs whisper in an emotional language as universal as it is engaging.
Sway to the rhythms of life.
Nø Førmat! is an independent record label based in Paris and founded in 2004 by renowned music producer Laurent Bizot. Founded on the epithet that ‘you never know in advance what you’ll fall in love with’, the label seeks to invest in original musical projects and has built a reputation for releasing albums which are superbly recorded and packaged with style. Spanning styles from rap, jazz and reggae to Brazilian pop, the label has released critically acclaimed albums by the most diverse range of artists including Oumou Sangaré, Chilly Gonzales, Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Ségal, Kassé Mady Diabaté and Melissa Laveaux.