Album Review: Guy One – #1 (Philophon Records; January 2018)


Guy One belongs to the Frafra ethnicity in Bolgatania, North of Ghana. The characteristic sound of Guy One’s style is the 2-stringed kologo. The Frafras are renowned for their agrarian hard-working ethic and Guy One is no exception, aside from leaving his village to record the album and gig occasionally, he returns hastily to his cows and goats – his favourite audience.

At 10 years old, Guy One forged his first kologo from a broomstick and a tin can and by 20, was a master player. In 2012, he wins the Ghana Music Award, and in 2013, Max Weissenfeldt invites Guy One to Berlin to produce and record #1 for his label Philophon Records.

The opening tune of #1 –  “Po’ore Ye La Be De Geta Gurego – If You Have No Backbone, You Can Not Walk” is an instrumental, a scene setter, and an ode to his home – a reflection of his days sat on his porch, playing his Kologo for himself.

The authentic sound of the kologo cyclically rings throughout. The slightly bassier tones of the instrument allow for an almost funky vibe, providing beats within which to groove and move. His lyrics offer advice whilst he uses his music to settle disputes, such as in “N’yella Be Bobere? – Where Do I Go?” whereby he speaks of the afterlife of the two religions in his village. Also offering advice in “Everything You Do, You Do For Yourself” – ‘If you do good, you do for yourself. If you do bad, you do for yourself’.

As well as this, the album provides upbeat grooving tunes:  “Bangere Tomme?’Who Knows Tomorrow?” is packed with conviviality as we hear roaring festival crowds and fasted paced Kologo with almost big-band-esque horns, as the introduction of the female chorus brings a warm authenticity to the party.

The album also boasts special guests such as in “Nongre, Nongre – Sugre, Sugre”, which means Love, Love – Remission, Remission’ which features Alogte Oho and His Sounds of Joy, a renowned gospel choir.

The kologo sounds brilliant and the mixture between Berlin and Bolgatania is done with precision, only adding and never taking from the authentic sound.

Guy One will be performing around Europe in the next few weeks. Don’t miss his tour dates:

10.05.2018 @ Xjazz Festival Privatclub – Berlin Germany
19.05.2019 @ Alice – Copenhagen Denmark
23.05.2018 @ Vera Festival – Groningen, Netherlands
24.05.2018 @ Paradiso – Amsterdam, Paradiso Netherlands
25.05.2018 @ Ekko – Utrecht, Netherlands
26.05.2018 @ World Village Festival – Helsinki, Finland

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