Mo Kolours’ debut EP is all about the drum. Rhythm, to be specific. And to be even more precise, sega: music that comes from the Island of Mauritius, right in the centre of the Indian Ocean. But you don’t need to know any more than that to enjoy music that’s as heavily influenced by dub and hip hop as African rhythms. And in the way he combines the music of his British and Mauritian roots, Mo K (if I can take the liberty of calling him that) has made one of the most interesting records you’ll hear this year.
I mean interesting in the best possible way. As I said, this record’s all about rhythm and African rhythms. But Mo Kolours’ achievement lies in taking the elements of his mixed musical heritage and transforming them into something new that’s both classic and contemporary at the same time. Ok, you might have heard platitudes like this before, just as you might recognise bits and pieces of Drum Talking, you will realize you won’t have heard them sounding like this. If, as one current theory has it, everything has already been done and that remains to be done creatively is to rearrange the existing things into a new order, then Mo K is a master of this art.
Sega is the beating heart of his sound, but the ‘African’ vibe is only really explicit on “Drum Talking” and “Biddies,” on the latter especially thanks to its evocative lyrics about rain falling, wind blowing and trees moving. Most of the time the Mauritian influence is more subtle, like the way the vocals alternate between afro beat chants and the more psychedelic, or fucked up (for want of a better term) stylings of Francis Bebey. But the way they’re chopped and distorted to render them even more ethereal is distinctly, well, Western. As are the dubstep flavours of “8 Hours” and the way Mo K takes The Beatles’ “Blackbird” and turns its melancholy acoustic vibe into something distinctly more upbeat (and with a slight reggae lilt to boot).
It’s ambitious, it’s unique, and it’s good. Mo Kolours’ message is encapsulated in “Bakiraq”’s refrain: “right here, right now.” That’s it. Right here, right now, this is the sound of music in 2011 and it’s a very good place to be.