23 August 2010

Monday's mp3: Malagasy Joy

For a recent radio show, I pulled out an album I haven't spun in a while. Kilema is a Malagasy musician and singer whose 2005 album Lavi-Tani (apparently now out of print) was another rose in my love affair with the musics of Madagascar. I only recently got his 2008 follow-up, Mena, another album chock full of great acoustic music.

Madagascar is also on my mind because of Douglas Adams. Yes, that Douglas Adams. In addition to intergalactic hitchhiking novels, he wrote the wonderful book Last Chance to See, a witty and somewhat disheartehing travelogue of a BBC-backed journey to see some of the rarest species on earth before they go extinct. One of the stops on their itinerary was Mauritius, a small (and ecologically desperate, from Adams' account) island that one gets to via Madagascar, another unique island with numerous threatened species.

Just as I'm glad that people are working to save Madagascar's lemurs and other critters, I'm ecstatic that the island was able to develop and maintain its own styles of music even as traders, colonial powers, pirates, and monarchs came and went.

A former member of the Justin Vali trio, Kilema (born Randrianantoandro Clément) is just one of the musicians bringing traditional Malagasy instruments to modern music. He comes from a musical family, and plays kabosy, valiha, katsa and marovany (more on these instruments here).

[mp3] Kilema: Nanitsanitsa (Overwhelmed)  
from the album Mena

If you enjoy this, be sure to also check out Tarika, D'Gary, Rossy, Regis Gizavo, and perhaps even Jaojoby. Each has a distinct sound and style. There are also a few good compilations of Malagasy music around.

More Kilema:
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Andy D. said...

My first introduction to Malagasy music was with Rajery and his album Sofera. Thanks for adding Kilema to my listening enjoyment.
btw... National Geographic magazine this month has a wonderful feature on that island nation.

SpinTheGlobe said...

Glad to help out, Andy. And thanks for the tip on the Nat Geo -- I hadn't seen that issue yet.

My first exposure to Malagasy music was probably Rossy's "Island of Ghosts" album -- which I still love.