Tarika / Jaojoby
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10: Beasts, Ghosts and Dancing With History
Triloka (www.triloka.com)

World Village/Discorama (www.worldvillagemusic.com)

cd cover Madagascar is a fascinating place, whether your passion is ethnomusicology, history, anthropology or exotic places full of natural wonders. Tarika have been the island's most well-known musical ambassadors for a decade, a fact celebrated in their sparkling new best-of. Their past releases explored the traditions of Malagasy music in varied ways, including albums built around political, cultural and historical contexts dealing with Madagascar's turbulent past, folkloric sounds, and musical and spiritual connections to Indonesia. Time magazine called them one of the top ten bands on the planet, and though such affirmation from the mainstream press may not be necessary, many would agree. Beasts, Ghosts and Dancing With History is chock full of key tracks that brim with acoustic instrumentation (vahila, kabosy, marovany) unique to Madagascar, the flat-out gorgeous vocals of leader Hanitra Rasoanaivo, subtle groove fusions with mainland Africa and beyond and the layered melodic/harmonic hooks that have always characterized the group. This would be a perfect album to pick up if you're looking for a starting point into Tarika's beautifully mighty music, and longtime fans will appreciate the addition of some smart remixes, a live selection and a pair of videos. May Tarika's subsequent decades be as fruitful.

cd cover One particular style that keeps 'em dancing in Madagascar and nearby parts of the Indian Ocean is salegy, an invigoratingly lively music anchored by skittering 6/8 hi-hat rhythms sweetened by guitars, accordion-patched keyboards and insistent call-and-response vocals. Eusebe Jaojoby, reigning king of salegy, has a stirring shout-and-testify way with his singing and leads his band (which includes members of his family) through a series of swinging romps on Malagasy. The faster songs (which constitute the majority) might bring to mind similarly infectious music from South Africa or Zimbabwe, sometimes putting a little more funk in the bass line or moving the congas a little further up front to assure sufficient wallop. Granmoun Lele and his vocal-and-percussion outfit add further punch from nearby Reunion Island, horns are added in spots and the unflagging joy in these songs of unity, love and perseverance are guaranteed to hit hard, delight deeply and shatter any thoughts you may have of resisting their charms. - Tom Orr

From cdRoots
Tarika 10
Jaojoby - Malagasy

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