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Rajery
Dorotanety
Indigo

cd cover This is a joyous, light-hearted release from valiha player Rajery. He plays the simple harp-like instrument with a depth and spirit that make it sound like much more than just a tube with strings. His technique is sparkling and clean, which is amazing when you consider that he only has one hand. (He plucks and strums with the calloused remainder of his left hand, while his right plays glittering runs.) He sings on some tracks, his voice light and clear on the sweet melodies. He also adds touches of percussion here and there, the drums and shakers shoring up the easy, rolling gait of the tunes. All of the music here is original, but Rajery mixes styles and modes from the highlands and the coastal areas of Madagascar, as well as throwing in some Western folk harmonies. It all flows together gracefully. The liner notes include a sketchy description of each track in French and English, but no translations of the lyrics. The descriptions are useful in their vague way, however. How else would the casual listener know, for example, that the title track is about the destructive power of bush fires, and an allegory for the destruction of Malagasy culture? Valiha music is so light and hypnotic that even sad, angry songs can come across as festive and airy. Dorotanety is definitely worth a close look and a close listen. It is a sensitive work from a generous artist. - Peggy Latkovich


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