Gasper Nali, the one-man-African-roots-band who rocked the Internet with his performance on a one-string home-made three-metre-long bass guitar and a cow skin bass drum called the babatoni, is ready to take on the world with his debut album.
His unique style of music received an extraordinary amount of online attention this summer as an old video, filmed five years ago, went viral with over 17 million views across the many websites and blogs that shared it under various names.
In response to this interest, Nali agreed with Moto Wambili Studios—a sister project and ‘in-house’ recording studio of Spare Dog Records in Nkhata Bay—to produce a professional recording of the by-now famous single, Abale Ndikuwuzeni.
The subsequent popularity of the single made it an obvious choice to follow it up with a full length album.
Nali’s music is distinctively Malawian with haunting melodies and hypnotic rhythms, but has on the other hand also been likened to things such as New Order and Arcade Fire, and his sound has gotten interest from Techno and EDM DJ’s.
The instrument Nali plays is a home-made bass guitar, about three metres long, with one string and a cow skin drum as a resonating box, which he made and maintains himself.
He plays it with a stick and an empty beer bottle, and together with a cow skin bass drum and a great voice, he creates the most amazing and danceable original Afro beats possible.
His songs, all sung in Chichewa, talk about life in Malawi and his home town of Nkhata Bay, including songs about social issues such as child brides.
Abale Ndikuwuzeni was recorded in the Moto Wambili Studios and features Nali on vocals, his babatoni and bass drum, with Chapasi Black playing some fantastic djembe drums and with additional instrumentation by Mattias Stålnacke—who also acts as producer.
This album is the fourth full-length release from Bristol based Spare Dog Records, an independent label dedicated to recording, promoting and bringing Malawian artists to the rest of the world.
Spare Dog Records is founded and run by Swedish musician and producer Stålnacke.
The 35-year old’s two minute, 57 seconds clip of him playing Abale Ndikumbukeni was initially recorded in 2007 but it went viral last month after Latin website Latinos Post reposted it, where it has so far garnered close to nine million views and 150 000 shares.
And since then, the video has been reposted by websites, with even reputable sites such as Huffington Post, Daily Motion and Heavy Metal picking up the clip and reposting it with commentaries.
Huffington Post described Nali’s Abale Ndikumbukeni as the next Gangnam Style, except it is good!
And in an exclusive interview from Nkhata Bay, the Standard Seven dropout said he has been surprised by the sudden interest in his music.
“I am honestly surprised by this interest because the video was recorded many years ago,” said the soft-spoken musician who is a resident musician at Mayoka Village Lodge in Nkhata Bay.
Nali told Chill that he started his music career playing alongside his younger brother when they were youngsters in Mzimba.
“My young brother used to play a four-string guitar while I played a one strong guitar. But when my brother died in 1999, I decided to improvise and created this babatani,” he said.
Since 2002, Nali, who hails from Mabulabo in Mzimba, has been engaged by Mayoka Village Lodge, a tourist haven in Nkhata Bay.