Mo Kolours – 'Mo Kolours’ album review

A wandering but engaging debut that blends hip hop, soul and worldly beats

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Liberal with the textures and colours and easy on the Pritt stick, the debut longplayer from Peckham musician Mo Kolours is as generous and carefree as collage albums come. It doesn’t show much commitment to structure, nor much interest in capitalising on its own ideas – but there’s a different kind of satisfaction to be had from grazing on its woozy invention, lo-fi humour and raw yet intricate grooves.

Mo Kolours’s alter-ego, the half-English, half-Mauritian producer, percussionist and vocalist Joseph Deenmamode, describes himself as ‘a mixed dude’ in many senses. He made fans out of Gilles Peterson, Hot Chip and Friendly Fires with a three-year trilogy of EPs (‘Drum Talking’, ‘Banana Wine’ and ‘Tusk Dance’) that magically expanded the horizons of British bedroom beats, kind of like Max in Maurice Sendak’s ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ finding his walls have become the world all around. And boy does he flit – to the point where this self-titled debut album has even been hailed as the ‘world music’ version of J Dilla’s legendary 31-course beat record ‘Donuts’.

Its 18 tracks, ranging from 14 seconds to three and a half minutes long, dial-surf drowsy dub, jazzy hip-hop and ’70s soul, not to mention calypso funk, African psychedelia and muggy south London electronica. Meanwhile sampled cries, barks, chatter, engine roars and soul classics jostle genially, and Deenmamode’s sweetly mellifluous voice drifts through it all like dope smoke.

There are strong echoes of Massive Attack, Madlib, Quasimoto and A Tribe Called Quest – but you’ll also get a sideways education in the Sega music of Mauritius’s Creole slaves, from which Deenmamode takes the ravanne drum, the triangle, and a certain raw, disjointed charm. Sega is the antidote to the slick production snobbery of ’90s-and-noughties hip hop, he told us recently – a reminder that ‘the rhythm should come from you, not your machine’.

The singles, unsurprisingly, are the most complete offerings. ‘Little Brown Dog’ sets the soulful but playful tone, winding sleepily around a gleaming steel drum hook. ‘Mike Black’ is a blissed-out club track washing up amongst the Sega musicians on a Mauritian beach. ‘Child’s Play’ pairs a jumpers-for-goalposts tune and a naively skipping beat with a lyric about knife crime: ‘They slash and stab each other up, what kind of games is that?’

Other tracks are mere fragments: ‘Play It Loud (In Your Car)’ is a sketch in more than one sense, while ‘Streets Again’ is one minute and 48 seconds of a faltering two-note groove built around the punched-baboon sound of an instrument like a Brazilian cuíca drum. Some might find Mo Kolours’s fleeting engagement with his own material frustrating – but the truth is, it takes rare skills to keep things this casual.

What do you think of ‘Mo Kolours’? Let us know in the comments box below or tweet us at @TimeOutMusic.

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