Faya - Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate
Like SNL's advice to the lovelorn and the average, 'Lowered Expectations', we don't ask a lot from this world when it comes to honesty and integrity. But, I still kind of miss it in music. Joe Driscoll is a rapper/beatboxer.singer-songwriter, born Stateside and living in the UK. Sekou Kouyate is an innovator on the kora (a 21 string African harp) from Guinea in West Africa. One speaks English but not French and the other, French but not English. In 2010 the two were brought together at the 'Mixed Night' Music Festival in Marseilles, France and given a week to prepare a concert. Once again, the international language of music proved indomitably more than just a hackneyed expression. The concert produced a band, the band produced 120 concert dates and the collaboration produced Faya, a spark of honest integrity in music on Cumbancha Discovery Records. It's a raw, unpolished gem of a disc that belies the softly strummed conversation one might expect from a duo. Through Driscoll's live looping of beatbox, guitar, harmonica and percussion the songs groove on deliciously deep beds of Afrobeat, funk, rock, hip hop and reggae. But, what Sekou brings to the table is equally extraordinary and simply enthralling. A veteran of the stage with contemporary virility in his heart and hands, he plugs in the vaunted ancient African instrument and stomps out some incredible sonics with distortion pedals and other effects. Words cannot describe the searing energy of 21 distorted strings masterfully manipulated. Faya, literally a tribute to 'fire' touches on all of todays hot buttons like poverty, borders, immigration and inequality. "The message is the seed," explains Driscoll. "Some people just enjoy the fruit, but we try to spread the seeds with a positive vibe." What more can you ask of a world that seems resigned to lower expectations? And, what truer markings of artists who are honestly trying to make good music and a little difference? Faya is an album of contemporary virtuosity that challenges the popular norm.