Miary Lepiera - Soro - Madagascar
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Miary Lepiera
Soro
Tinder Records (www.tinderrecords.com)

cd cover Music from the island of Madagascar has been getting a lot of attention and acclaim in recent years, and rightly so. Situated as it is just off the lower east coast of Africa, it's been a convergence point for a number of African, European, Arabic and Asian cultures, each bringing something to the mix. Internationally known band Tarika are probably Madagascar's most famous musical ambassadors, but a smattering of others have earned some of the worldwide spotlight as well. Miary Lepiera was born in Madagascar but honed his musical chops in Eurpoe, and he's making the most contemporary-sounding Malagasy music to be heard thus far. Having soaked up jazz, funk, Euro-techno and more while living in Brussels, he nonetheless retained a healthy degree of respect for the traditional aesthetic of his own country's music. Soro is an inventive and pleasing blend of acoustic instrumentation with sweeping organic and programmed rhythms, rich vocal harmonies, atmospheric sounds and adventurous melodic hooks. Balance is the key here- any time the keyboards start sounding a little too glossy or the drum machines a tad cold, a snappy rhythmic break or particularly compelling vocal passage saves the day. The influence of the African mainland is apparent in a recurring Afro-pop feel that is genuine and not generic, and Lepiera's singing, which bears a strong resemblance to that of Cape Verde's Boy Ge Mendes, has an almost instant warmth and familiarity that caresses the album's breezy pace and danceable arrangements. Though Lepiera carries much of the load here as singer, guitarist, keyboardist, composer and lyricist, the supporting players (particularly vocalist Mariana Toutziarakis and percussionists Gato Bedseyele and Pata Njava) give the whole thing a lot of added zest. Taking the roots sounds of Madagascar on a lively fusion journey rather than just throwing them to the wind, Miary Lepiera has created quite a good piece of work here. - Tom Orr

Available at cdRoots


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