Sweet-Thorn is as gentle and tender
Sweet-Thorn is as gentle and tender as Gito Baloi’s death was violent. Riaan Wolmarans listens to Baloi's last project, co-written and co-produced with Nibs van de Spuy and Baloi, sadly, is with us no more. He was shot dead during an apparent robbery in Johannesburg in April this year. But he did leave us with this, a superb acoustic album he recorded, co-wrote and co-produced with Nibs van der Spuy.
In the sleeve notes, Van der Spuy pays tribute to Baloi, whom he first saw playing with Tananas in 1988, whereafter their musical paths crossed many times and a friendship came to be.
Baloi and Van der Spuy started playing as a duo in 2000: “Gito would send shivers down one’s spine; he had the voice of an angel, which was a musical instrument in its own right. So unique is his bass sound that after three notes you know it is Gito Baloi.”
And Sweet-Thorn (Greenhouse/ Sheer), which was ready for release just before Baloi died, stands alongside Van der Spuy’s words as a monument to Baloi’s musical gift.
The two musos’ gentle acoustic guitar rhythms blend effortlessly, with a minimal layer of vocals drifting in and out.
Opener Todos has a Spanish flavour, followed by Salaam with its vaguely Eastern tang and the African magic of Mountain Wind, and so it continues; eclectic, but not overpoweringly so.
Baloi also provides a touch of percussion, and Chris Tokalon (flute) and Kyla Thomas (violin) help out on a few tracks.
Sweet-Thorn is as gentle and tender as Baloi’s death was violent; it’s two African souls making music that is sublime in its simplicity.