Gasper Nali’s second album, Zoona Malawi (roughly translates to ‘It’s true, Malawi’), is a return to simplicity. While his debut album had a band arrangement of instruments, this time it’s only Gasper.
Recorded on a beach in his hometown of Nkhata Bay, only meters from Lake Malawi, Gasper plays six songs from beginning to end – and that’s it. No additional instruments, no overdubs. Just Gasper’s voice, his huge Babatoni bass guitar and his cow skin kick drum. And that characteristic droning rhythm and hypnotic melodies. And if you listen carefully, the faint sound of the surf in the background. It took three tries to get the recording happening, due to the frequent power cuts in the area and some sporadic end-of-rain-season rain.
This is what Gasper has to say about himself and his music – a text also printed on the vinyl sleeve:
I am Gasper Nali. I live in Nkhata-Bay, but I was born in Mzimba, a town close to Nkhata-Bay. I started singing and performing in 1997 with my two brothers who passed away in 2002.
After they passed away I started on my own as a soloist. After singing for a long time I decided to make my own guitar with one wire string called the Babatoni. I just came up with the idea from nowhere. I made the instrument and started practising my songs. Nobody taught me how to play the instrument, I taught myself everything from making it to making music with it. I like the Babatoni because it does not need electricity to play with, so I can bring it everywhere with me and play it without plugging it to electricity.
I use cow skin for making the cover of the body and took part of the blue-gum tree to form the fretboard and the neck of the guitar, and I use car tire wire to make the string. I also play a self-made local bass drum with a self-made pedal, together with the Babatoni.
When everything is finished I tune my Babatoni, then I write my songs. Nobody writes for me and everything is by myself. I want to thank God for giving the wisdom of music. Today I am able to make a living with music.
Zoona Malawi is released on Nov 2nd, 2018, by Spare Dog Records (UK) together with Mississippi Records (US) and Sing A Song Fighter (SWE) on vinyl and digital.
Pronunciation: The oo in ‘Zoona’ sounds like in ‘More’ or ‘For’ – not like in Zoom.