Madagascar, the fourth-largest island in the world, lies off the southeast coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. A veritable multicultural matrix, Madagascar is the place where Oceanic, Arab, Southeast Asian, and African cultures intersect and then fan out to point in and beyond the island nation. With 18 official ethnic groups on the island, the ethnic makeup of the Madagascan people reflects this island's role as a junction for travelers from around the globe. Among Madagascar's many visitors were Europeans. On August 10, 1500, the Portuguese "discovered" Madagascar. With this proclamation the Madagascan door was opened to visits from such competent maritime powers as Holland, England, and France. With these and future visits came subjugation, exploitation, waves of Christian missionaries, and the accordion. On Madagascar: Pays Makikoro L'Accordeon (Madagascar: Masikoro Country - The Accordion), the squeeze-box dominated sounds of one Madagascan ethnic group -- the Masikoros -- are presented for your listening pleasure. Known as the hararavo among the Masikoro, the accordions heard on these recordings have had their reeds cut -- or "castrated" -- so that alternative scales may be hammered out on their keyboards and buttons, and blown through their bellows. In keeping with Masikoro beliefs on gender specific instruments, the "castrated" hararavo is a masculine instrument that is supposed to be played only by men. The 16 tracks that are found on this CD are often accompanied by singing, hand-clapping, langoros (double-headed drums), and katsas (rattles). Song genres and repertoires such as the Taliha and the newer Tsapiky are heard on the CD. As is the case with all Ocora releases, detailed liner notes accompany this particular CD. In essence, Madagascar: Pays Makikoro L'Accordeon (Madagascar: Masikoro Country - The Accordion is an admirable collection of tunes that should find favor among inquisitive music lovers from around the globe.
AllMusic Review by John Vallier