Back to their original name (changed to and then back from Sibeba last time out), this team of aunt and niece from Biko, an island off the coast of Equatorial Guinea, in western Africa has made a wonderful sophomore album that is full of new ideas while holding on the tight, rhythmic acoustic style of their debut a few years back.
The backbone is still the singing, in their traditional language a mix of hard roots a capella and sweet, almost swinging popular ideas that mix and match Spanish styles, some Caribbean touches and many west African forms, including makossa and soukous. They have that insightful rapport that only comes from family groups or long time mates, and they sing with each other as if one.
There's a lot of variety on Kottó, with a light, acoustic makossa starting off the record in spirited energy. They take a shot at a reggae groove on the title track, a celebration of a child's first step, and it's fun and breezy. The a capella pieces are totally entrancing, whether they are serious social themes or simple celebrations. One splendid song is a morna-like piece (fans of Cesaria Evora take note), utterly charming. There's lots of Latin and African percussion, clarinet, electric and acoustic guitars, some understated synths (imitating accordions, marimbas, and such), a real string section and a solid rhythm section. But it's the voices... the voices... roaring and rootsy one minute, unearthly and sublime the next. - CF
see also: Africa