It’s summer, the weather’s getting warmer, warm enough perhaps for a spot of al fresco dining. Of course you’ll want some music the kind that’ll remind you about times like these when matters turn colder, yet will make the perfect soundtrack for long, lazy afternoons. Look no further, Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita provide exactly what you need and will point out what you’ve been missing if you haven’t been paying attention previously. This is in fact the third in a series of albums which marks a decade of collaboration between Finch ( leading expert and doyen of Welsh harp) and Keita ( major exponent of the 22 string African kora) which merged two diverse musical traditions into one delicate but appealing fusion.
Look, I don’t want you to think for one second that I’m trying to make out that this is delicate, light and airy… I mean it is but there’s also much meaning, depth, skill and substance. Whilst acknowledging the roots of both themselves and their instruments what emerges here is a new strand which is at once both ancient and modern, looking to wider horizons. If that’s too high brow, well I don’t care, really all you need to know is that the strings here are beguiling yet have lasting impact.
Merging their chosen instruments with classical players – violins, viola, cello and double bass – has pushed the envelope further, on the opening ‘Gobaith’ – hope in Welsh – worked up from a jam session pre gig in Manchester now has a quietly building structure which the introduction of those afore mentioned strings gently underpin. ‘Dimanche’ is the ideal accompaniment to downtime any day of the week, bubbling with African rhythms and trills, the orchestral section contrasting and counterpointing the tricky lead lines. ‘Jeleh Calon’ translates as Smiling Heart which explores the connection between heart beat and musical beats, the tune circles using a traditional kora melody as a base for extemporisation whilst the closing ‘Julu Kata’ celebrates the innovation and cavalier attitude of its creators. Yes there is far more I could ramble on about but I think you’ve got the idea I’m recommending this heavily by now.
Here is an album with real soul and purpose, the echoes linger and endure long after it has finished. Isn’t that something? You need to hear ‘Echo’ and let it work its magic.