Published May 13, 2016Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate were both popular on the world music scene prior to meeting at a French festival in 2010. They clicked personally and musically, and a 2014 debut duo record, Faya, was something of a genre hit.
Expect Monistic Theory to follow suit, as it's an accomplished outing that again features a fusion of styles. Kouyate is known as a kora virtuoso, while Driscoll brings funk, folk and hip-hop elements to their sound. Occasionally, the hip-hop inflections sound a mite forced, as on the title track, so it's the tunes with a more concentrated African flavour that work best here. The sweet groove of the opener "Tamala" sets the tone nicely, beginning with a voice-over and lyrics that confront "the battle between commerce and common sense," then settles into a dynamic and rhythmic instrumental groove. The pair's voices blend nicely on the first single (and album highlight) "Tokira" and "Rising Tide."
The album closes with another instrumental, a spirited live take on Stevie Wonder classic "Master Blaster." It's hard to believe Monistic Theory was recorded at the Cumbancha studio in Vermont during a cold winter, for the album exudes a consistently warm and sunny vibe. (Cumbancha)