Tarika

Soul Makassar

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Its title a play on Manu Dibango's 1973 worldwide smash, "Soul Maskossa," this album sees Tarika delving deep into the roots of Malagasy music -- 1,500 years deep, in fact, the period when Indonesians settled the island off the African coast known as Big Red. Recorded in Sulawesi and Bandung, as well as the band's London base, it's still very definitely a record of music from Madagascar, with the tubular valiha harp and the zither-like marovany combining delightfully with acrobatic guitar work. But the framework of songs like "Sulwesi" and "Baraka" have an Indonesia touch, while "Tovovavy" introduces a strain that bears an odd resemblance to American alt-country --- country and Madagascar. The closer, "Madindo," even has a Malagasy rap that doesn't sound out of place. Group leader Hanitra Rasoanaivo has done her research thoroughly, connecting the two cultures, reaching back to her own past with "Malalko," which most listeners will recognize as "Be My Baby," a song she heard as a local 1970s hit for a band called Les Surfs. Guests, including former 3 Mustaphas 3 bassist Sabah Habas Mustapha and one-time Small Face Ian McLagan on Hammond organ, offer subtle contributions, and this remains very much a band disc. Not quite a concept record the way their earlier Son Egal was, it certainly adds a new twist to the idea of roots music, and stands as another milestone in a glowing career.

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