Easily one of the most talented musicians of recent memory for his sheer conquering of the Kora – a delightful African guitar/harp hybrid weapon of beauty, Toumani Diabate has teamed up with his brother for the first time in a fantastic collaboration of Kora players. The result is a complex and hypnotic mixture of plucks and melodies that is so unique to the instrument itself.
This review is slightly different to most I write because it’s difficult to talk about each track individually. The opener “Hamadoun Toure” though gives a taste of almost everything to come. It’s mix of bouncing bass swing notes being plucked carefully allows the melody to really develop. Instead of Toumani playing everything with two hands, we now have four and that lets the expressive slides up and down the notes become more detailed, impressive and breathtaking. Put simply – there’s nothing else like it. “Claudia and Salma” is more introspective as it weaves a hypnotic back and forth of chords whilst “Rachid Ouiguini” has more of an open sway to it as it slowly gets higher in pitch and tension. It’s a beautiful track. Other tracks are quiet brooders like “Tougna Industries” and “Lampedsua” whilst the remainder of the album forges more worldly tracks that often have a traditional feel to them.
The Kora is an instrument so underused in the world of music and the Diabate’s make it shine. This is your world music pick up for 2014.