Introducing Vakoka

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Vakoka is something of a one-shot Malagasy supergroup, comprised of performers and composers from around the island, each with their own bits of diverse styles and ideas. The two primary forces behind the music are Seta Andrianary, a woodwind player from the capital, and Hanitra Rasoanaivo, the force behind Tarika. The roster is filled in by a number of local stars and composing geniuses. The idea behind the album itself is to represent something from each of the multitude of styles present in Malagasy traditional music (sans the rock and pop influences hopefully), and moreover to combine this multitude of styles into a coherent whole. This is done remarkably well, with each composer setting out a couple of songs and the group members each taking on the various aspects of the sound from their own repertoire. Valihas, sodinas, and guitars intermingle over a constant patter of small drums during the hotter numbers, and light twinkling on the strings accompanies softer vocals on the slower numbers. The album capably transports the listener to an aesthetic not present in much of Western music, and an ambience that's rarely to be experienced outside of the locale in question. Give it a spin as something of a mixed primer of Malagasy music.

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