D'Gary

Akata Meso

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Madagascar's D'Gary has long been hailed as one of the world's greatest guitar players, but in Akata Meso he's made an album to convince even the loudest naysayers. While rooted in Malagasy music (which is to say a melting pot of influences), what emerges is a very strong individual style, evident from the very first licks of "Very Ny Bado." He sings, but it's impossible not to feel that vocals are just a little window dressing, as the playing is the highlight here, relentlessly inventive, with the kind of fleet fingers so rarely heard nowadays (as on "Bobo-Drano," where just tabla backs up the sound). He's made his reputation on acoustic guitar, so it comes as a shock initially to hear him cranked up and a little distorted on "Fatiky Maiky." Once you're past that, however, he unleashes a series of pyrotechnics to leave most rock gods in the dust, as if he has something to prove. He doesn't, of course -- but maybe it will help him get wider airplay and acclaim of the type he's been deserving for years. He's made great albums before, but this is indisputably career-defining.

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