Gérald Toto


Sale price16,67 €
Sold out

Release LP SKU: NOF42
  • Color
  • White

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Gerald  Toto’s  music  sways  to  the  rhythms  of  life. 

 The  songs  on  his  new  album  don’t  shout  or  seek  to  batter  you  over  the  head.  Like  all  the  best  music,  they  insinuate  their  way  quietly  into  your  brain  like  ear  worms with  a  benevolent  and  beguiling  subtlety.

Gentle  and  lilting  yet  lithesome  and  full  of  bold  nuance,  the  music  Toto  makes  on  Sway takes  us  on  an  imaginary  journey  to  a  world  that  has  time  to  stop  and  stare  and  where  the  frenetic  din  of  modernity  is  hushed  to  a  murmur,  his  songs  seemingly  plucked  from  an  infinite  bowl  of  fresh  air  and  sunshine  as  they  wrap  the  listener  in  a  sweet  caress  of  timeless  reverie.

Like  all  the  best  music,  the  songs  on  Sway refuse  simple  categorisation,  a  cultural  melting  pot  of  acoustic  folk,  jazz,  soul,  pop  and  blues  with  cosmopolitan  borders  that  embrace  Creole  and  Caribbean  flavours. 

The  rhythms  of  life,  plucked  and  strummed  and  given  poetic  voice  by  a  master  of  the  understated.  For  if  quiet  is  the  new  loud,  Toto’s  voice  is  blessed  with  an  elegant  eloquence  that  demands  to  be  heard  as  his  songs  whisper  and  sway  in  an  emotional  language  that  is  as  universal  as  it  is  engaging.

We  last  heard  Gerald  Toto  on  the  sublime  2017  trio  album Bondeko,  recorded  with  fellow  global  travellers  Lokua  Kanza  and  Richard  Bona,  the    “dreamy  backdrop”  and  “immaculate  sweet  harmonies”  of  which  earned  a  plethora  of  four  and  five  star  reviews  and  led  one  reviewer  to  liken  the  trio  to  “an  African  Crosby,  Stills  and  Nash.”

Yet  that  record  was  merely  the  most  recent  chapter  in  a  storied  career  of  impressive  pedigree.    Born  in  France  in  1967,  Gerald  Toto’s  West  Indian  parents  hailed  from  the  Antilles  and  were  tax  officials  rather  than  musicians.  But  they  were  ardent  music  lovers  and  the  parental  collection  of  vinyl  was  like  manna  from  heaven  to  Gerald  as  the  house  in  which  he  grew  up  vibrated  to  the  sounds  of  American  soul,  Afro-Caribbean  dance  music,  Congolese  soukous  and  makossa  from  Cameroon. 

The  radio  provided  an  education  in  pop  and  rock  and  the  first  record  he  bought  was  a  Pink  Floyd  album.  Then  came  Neil  Young,  Bob  Marley  and  a  burgeoning  interest  in  jazz.  

By  the  age of  ten  he  was  playing  the  guitar,  followed  by  the  bass,  an  instrument  which  has  always  fascinated  him.  A  student  loan  was  used  to  finance  the  building  of  a  home  studio,  where  –in  his  own  words  -he  progressed  from  laboratory  assistant  to  a  full-blown  “mad  scientist  of  sound”. 

By  the  1990s  he  was  embedded  in  the  French  underground  as  an  audacious  world  music  adventurer.  In  addition  to  his  own  atmospheric  and  experimental  albums,  he’s  worked  with  artists  as  diverse  as  the  Algerian  rai  singer  Faudel,  Parisian  hipsters  Nouvelle  Vague  and  the  Middle  Eastern  electro  futurists  Smadj.

Most  significantly  of  all,  in  2005,  he  hooked  up  for  the  first  time  with  the  Congolese  singer  Lokua  Kanza  and  the  Cameroonian  Afro-jazz  star  Richard  Bona,  a  felicitous  teaming  that  led  to  the  collaborative  album  Toto  Bona  Lokua.  The  record  caused  a  sensation,  particularly  in  France,  where  it  became  a  big  seller.  A  sell-out  tour  followed,  although  the  thriving  solo  careers  of  all  three  meant  that  is  was  a  dozen  years  before  they  found  a  window  in  their  hectic  schedules  to  go  into  the  studio  to  record  a  follow-up. 

Now  comes  Toto’s  latest  solo  offering,  swaying  gently  in  the  breeze,  cool,  elegant  and  elusive,  the  songs  refusing  to  remain  earthbound  or  to  be  tied  down.  Sway  to  the  sweet,  samba-tinged  romance  of  “My  Girlfriend.”  Groove  to  the  syncopated  jazz-blues  of  “You  Got  Me”.  Float  away  on  the  ethereal  lightness  of  being  that  is  “Away  Alive”.

    Dream  to  the  futuristic  doo-wop  of  “Umbaka”.  Bask  in  the  diaphanous,  sun-dappled  lilt  of  the  title  track.    Defy  gravity  with  the  haunting  dream-pop  of  “Let  It  Blow”.  Roll  to  the  bluesy  acoustic  guitar  picking  of  “Dutiful  Love”.  Thrill  to  the  skittering  electronic  beats  of  “It's  a  Love  Pain”  and  wonder  at  the  disturbing  beauty  of  the  album’s  atmospheric  closer  “The  Night  Is  Coming.”

Sway  to  the  rhythms  of  life.  

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