Born in Conakry, Guinea but living in Wales, N’Famady Kouyate creates music rooted in the Mandingue tradition of West Africa, but that has evolved to incorporate influences of jazz, pop and indie music. However you define it, the music is simply vibrant and alive.
Playing the balafon (a traditional wooden African xylophone), Kouyate’s music has a melodic rhythm that can both inspire dancing and celebration. On his latest EP Aros I Fi Yna, Kouyate explores various musical tapestries. The title track has a wild energy that is hard to pin point; fiery rhythms, salsa melodies, West African instrumentation and a sick guitar solo that takes you for a spin. It’s exciting because it sounds wholly unique and fresh.
Second track “Gadael y Dref”, featuring Gruff Rhys, has elements of Latin music embedded within the meditative melody, while Kouyate’s balafon playing is given a chance to breathe and carry the song in beautiful ways. And then “Balafo Douma” brings in jazzy horn accompaniments and Afrobeat drumming that adds a darker, moodier tone to the track.
Take a listen to some of these thrilling tracks in our World Watch Playlist!