Amen Viana


"There are no walls. The sound goes through space and comes off his airplane. Hey Joe, you hear the sound?"

At the beginning of the world, the first sound is a guitar riff. Monterey , minus five billion years. The evening is falling on the great Californian fault and God is on stage. This is a little-known episode of Creation. A few days ago, a discussion on this subject took place with Amen Viana, a huge rock guitarist, totally melted in Métis sound, a kind of acoustic prototype fed on the black river and the American garage. He looks at me and asks me, 'You think, man, that God is an Arteur?' There are things that man doesn’t answer. This initial concert, I still have the ticket in my wallet.

Forty-four years old, the dried-up silhouette in the sound, the gaze that circulates, voltaic and subliminal, Viana is a form of… cosmic concentrate. In his veins flows the blood of Hendrix and the luminous incantation of Clapton. Water floods, dark and sumptuous. It is the sound descended from the African flesh to meet the white gazelles, grown in jazz, rap and cantatas of Pergolèse. This guy knows! And the idea of the concert, he conveys the spirit from the beginning:
“The stage is first and foremost the idea of sharing. Communication with the public is one thing for me… essential. It is not a matter of place, of room size, even if the stadium remains the dream. I mean, you communicate the sound in a basement, in a house,” he explains by adjusting his amp. Three notes to begin with. This is Jimmy in Monterey, 1967.

“The times… It’s great to have freedom. There is no longer any limit, I am totally in tune with these years, because there is music, message, performance too. You remember Hendrix playing the American anthem with his teeth. It makes sense.” For the record, we’re in the middle of campus protests, Detroit and Chicago riots. The FBI assassinates the black leaders, Hoover promises death to the Panthers. And the music goes up. The anthem of freedom, encounter, flower power, the right to school and health. No limit.
Since he hit his first scratch in the 1990s, Amen has been tracking this sound. Around him, in his intimate living room, Africa is there, “because it generates the original sound”. Fela and Keziah Jones, of course, who came from Lagos, but also the Ghanaians from Osibisa, “It’s a permanent mix, you have fabulous people on all sides. The message is there. Listen to Skunk Anansie, an African singer and three white musicos, meet her.” And then Living Colour, in this America whiter than white, racist and crazy.

A few years ago, Viana was in concert in Cologne. “At one point, the girl who sings, a rapper, offered flowers in the front row. I saw the people crying. The audience was crying that this young girl gave them this gift.” And if he joins Kossi’s troupe today, Viana explains it in the same way. “We thought about it, coming to people’s homes and playing for them, being in their homes, and putting music everywhere. We thought about this kind of physical performance, but also with what technology offers us, to play on platforms, in really warm virtuality.” Anything is possible. There are no walls. The sound goes through space and comes down from his airplane. Hey Joe, do you hear the sound?