Mo Kolours: Refusal to conform

Anglo-Mauritian producer, singer and percussionist Joseph Deenmamode, aka Mo Kolours, has just released his third solo album, Inner Symbols, on London label Five Easy Pieces.

A member of the 22a collective, the South London artist has mastered an individual sound over time that blends the world of hip hop, dub, soul and a number of electronic styles, placing him next to fellow sonic explorers like Spacek, Madlib, Paul White and Theo Parrish.

Quoting Plato, Inner Symbols takes its cue from the philosopher’s words “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, charm and gaiety to life and everything”. Created on a Electro Harmonix looper using samples, live instrumentation and a Roland drum machine, Mo Kolours state that influences range from “colonisation and African diaspora to Korean shamanism, Doug Hammond to Junior Byles.”

Keen to know more, we caught up with him to look further into the influences behind the record.

Mo Kolours…

“This selection features some influences that gave me nourishment during the creation of my new record. In particular focusing on an approach to music making, that draws on tradition, but allows for a personal interpretation on those traditional foundations. People that do it their way, and remember where it came from.”

1. Papua New Guinea

This first example is elemental. A musical Genesis. A recording made by James L.Anderson in the early ’70s. When I listen to this, I feel transported to a place where music is a fundamental part of what reality is. As if the very cloth of reality is music in itself. From within the weave are distinct characters, with their own earthy takes on the theme.

2. Milford Graves

Played at John Coltrane’s funeral and had a big role to play in the free Jazz movement. Milford Graves is a hero. A man Defiant. Playing all the rhythms at the same time. Tapping into pure expression. Refusing to conform to a rhythm.

Before you even catch one, he’s on to the next. The man references multiple rhythms and traditions in one phrase. This is not an ‘easy listening’ record. An ongoing inspiration for me. I’ve watched Milford talk about his ideas on videos online, as much as I’ve listened to his music. Milford plays HIS beat.

3. Ras Micheal

Traditions dredged up from the depths of antiquity. Re-remembered over hundreds of years. Ras Micheal presents Rasta worship music in his own Nyabinghi drum-led way. Reflections of Jazz and Soul hide in the instrumentation, the depth of the space present, the reverence felt.

4. Nana Vasconcelos

My favourite percussionists add depth and texture to the composition. Not many have quite as much of those qualities as Nana. Maybe one of the best Berimboa players ever, Nana gives his own Brazillian grown slant on classical instruments like the Tabla. A good example for me, of someone who is confident in his own view of an instrument.

5. Doug Hammond

Doug Hammond is a Drummer who leads bands. Doug also plays solo, on conventional drum-kit and sings. His lyrics are gentle and manage to hold a steady strength. His voice fragile and wise. This example comes from a personal favourite album of mine, ‘Reflections in the sea of Nurnen’. Well worth looking for footage of him in concert online. Much dues go out Mr Hammond.

6. Junior Byles

Another visionary, Junior Byles is one of Jamaica’s stars. A sincere voice with an instinctive delivery. His Lyrics inspired another version on the new wax.

7. Menwar

Menwar (‘My Black’ in Mauritian Creole) is a Sega artist from the Indian ocean island of Mauritius, also my father’s home country. I had the chance to meet this legend on my visit to the island last year. His personal angle on the ever-evolving art of Sega is strong and all-encompassing. He has pioneered within Sega music and reached far beyond. The elements that make Sega he holds dear, but never afraid to challenge the Sega mold. Underrated on a global level, Maybe he holds the torch for creole Mauritian music today. Menwar’s music has helped me stay brave.

8. Kankick

One of the most underrated producers of all time. Kankick marries the impossible; Knocking kick-drum, alleyway gutter beats, with the most delicate, emotional, multi-layered, melodic loops. A genius of the finer things of sampling. Simple as well as complicated. He has humour, and is deeply serious. Kankick has always stayed with what he loves. This guy has taken up years of my life, listening and thinking about what he is doing in his music. And where does he get those loops?

9. Okinawa folk

Ancient tropical Islanders appear to reflect a universal commonality in music. The galloping rhythm and melancholic voices keep me entranced. This music reminds me of my wifey. She loves to listen all day long, the melodies creeping out of her workroom for hours. Ryukyuan music can be a constant feature in the soundscape of my house. I love Okinawa folk music almost as much as I love my wifey.

10. James Brown

One way to finish the night off is to play James Brown’s music. Where would music be without James. No Fela Kuti, No Hip Hop music, No Micheal Jackson Maybe. Enough said.

Featured Image: Karen Pang

Inner Symbols is out now on Five Easy Pieces.

Order it here.

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