Sekou Kouyate
Dakar Sound / CNR (

If you want African pop music, it doesn't get better than this disc. Sekou Kouyate has a long history in the music scene in west Africa, including a stint with the Rail Band of Bamako, Mali. His griot roots are strong, but that Rail Band gig gave him an international language to work with and this recording is expansive and hypnotic in its use of music new and old. This album includes lush, full throttle pop sounds, rife with swirling layers of electric guitars and soaked in reverb and synths. These show off the rock guitar style that Kouyate incorporates into the melodies of Mali. At the other end of the spectrum is the equally charged acoustic sound he can develop on songs like "Tikenou." Here the voices and ngoni are up-front and clean in a call and response that can be mesmerizing. The bulk of the music on Koulikoro is decidedly on the pop side, but it is intelligent, multi-faceted and expertly played. The variety of guitar sounds and styles is enough to recommend this one. - CF

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