Higher Octave Music has often been thought of as a new age label that also gets into smooth jazz. But this self-titled CD by the Soto Koto Band is hardly an example of outright new age music. Under the direction of producer M. Oko Drammeh, who grew up in Gambia but later moved to Europe, The Soto Koto Band plays what is essentially instrumental West African pop. Selections like "Mariama," "Let's Gumbay" and "Korajulo" are far from traditional West African music. Rather, the band mixes contemporary Afro-pop with funk, R&B and jazz as well as a variety of Latin styles (everything from Afro-Cuban salsa and Brazilian samba to South African Indian music). On this CD, synthesizers, horns and guitars interact nicely with African percussion and the kora (a traditional instrument that is still embraced by rural tribes in Gambia). This is very creative and risk-taking music that lovers of modern African pop should be aware of.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson