Oté Maloya - The Birth of Electric Maloya

by Jason Atkinson Rating:10 Release Date:2017-06-16

Strut Records are known for their classic compilations. Many feature African music. This particular one focuses on music from Réunion Island, an island off the coast of Madagascar. Réunion is a French island and part of the Eurozone. The musical style featured here, called Maloya, is not only grooving but also political in nature—at one point the music was banned by the French government due to its revolutionary/communist/ability to make you shake your ass sensibilities. 

The album takes us through a whole range of Maloya, ranging from progressive sounding songs (synthesizers, pop and slap bass) to the more traditional. Maloya music, as opposed to Séga, the other favourite style of the island, typically only features percussion and vocals. Further, Maloya is highly influenced by the diverse population of the Island: French, Chinese, Muslim, Indian, and West African. 

The collection opens with a piece that sounds, to my years, a great example of the progressive: "La Rosée Si Feuilles" by Caméléon. It features electric piano, funky syncopated rhythm, and traditional call/response vocals. Meanwhile, the track "Moi La Pas Fait Tout Sel" is influenced by the tradition: Jean Claude Viadére on vocals with shakers and tabla sounds that evoke the music of India.

There are many outstanding female vocalists featured on the album. Of particular note is "Maloya ton Tisane" by Michou and the Serge Gainsbourg influenced "Séga Le Sport" by Marie Hélen Et Ses Créol’s. Expect unusual organ beat polyphony, conversation between singers, and horns, sax and trumpet. 

If you are in the mood for something that will open your ears, this collection is highly recommended. 

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