Wednesday 11th October 2023
£12 Advance £15 Door
Amadou Diagne has centuries of West African music at his fingertips. Cory Seznec is a musical wanderer and uncertified ethnomusicologist. A chance encounter while busking in the streets of Bath planted the seeds of a collaboration that’s been fermenting now for over a decade. Life embarked them on different touki (journey in Wolof, Amadou’s mother tongue), but thanks to the support of Arts Council England those seedlings are shooting up into the light. Following Touki’s album Right of Passage (released in 2020) they are excited to be releasing their sophomore record, Plastic Man, at the end of 2023. Both albums were recorded at Peter Gabriel’s legendary Real World Studios.
Born into a griot family of percussionists and praise singers in Dakar, Amadou Diagne is not your ordinary griot. Though he draws heavily on Coastal African sounds and rhythms, he has forged his own identity as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. A self-taught kora player – he was prohibited from studying in Senegal because he did not descend from a lineage of kora players – and guitarist (he developed a signature style to accompany his powerhouse voice). A true natural, Amadou genuinely loves learning, playing and performing music, delighting in the rhythmic possibilities within the melodies he composes. His music has been featured in Songlines, BBC 3 Late Junction and fRoots.
A French-American in Paris, Cory Seznec’s fingerstyle guitar-playing is syncopated, polyrhythmic, cross-pollinated and idiosyncratic. He also plays banjo and wades in the deep river of American song. Busking misadventures with Malian musicians in the Paris metro led him to Songhai songsters in Timbuktu and ancient omutibo guitarists in Western Kenya. Feverish touring with the world roots trio Groanbox gave him his sea legs. But a three-year stint in Ethiopia is what cracked everything open. These experiences shaped Cory into an artist who traces the through-line across musical cultures and whose songs let the past reverberate in the present.
Their second release focuses on climate change and environmental activism, drawing together West African fables, current socio-economic and political challenges facing both developing countries and western ones, and from personal stories and experiences to bring awareness to the pressing need for immediate solutions to this giant crisis affecting us all.
As a result, this project is not some producer-driven collaboration, but the original fruit borne of a genuine dream to communicate curiosity, raise important issues, and bring different worlds together through music. Here the kora dances playfully with and around the banjo, the guitar, the fiddle and the cello; the calabash and other percussion add powerful, driving beats; and silky voices entrance the listener. The influences are many, and rather than remaining in any one tradition, the touki – the musical voyage itself – is the destination.
“Scintillating…the sequel to Ali Farka Touré & Ry Cooder’s Talking Timbuktu, revisited and enriched with unique kora-banjo-acoustic guitar combinations of a rare elegance.” – Rolling Stone France