Oté Maloya

Music Review

23 Jun 2017
Various Artists
Oté Maloya
Strut
Formats also available: vinyl
vinyl

Subtitled The birth of electric maloya on Réunion Island 1975 – 1986, the music on this compilation is something else. Réunion is part of the Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean and a melting pot of different cultures for centuries, maloya is it’s traditional music, originally described as the music of slaves. This album however focuses on what occurred when western influences combined with local styles and electric instruments to create a fusion that is apparently unique. The influences may have been jazz, funk, blues, rock, reggae and beyond but what results is fabulous in a whole other way. The 19 tracks were compiled by local duo La Basse Tropicale, who are DJ Konsöle and DJ Natty Hö who have found some real gems including Hervé Imare’s ‘Mele-Mele Pas Toué P’Tit Pierre’ with its noodling guitar, and the irresistible opening track Caméléon’s ‘La Rosée Si Feuilles Songes’, where the groove is made up with electric organ, percussion and guitar. All 19 tunes are songs, with a mix of male and female voices so there’s plenty of variety but also a certain vibe that knits them together.

The sound isn’t exactly polished but neither is it crude, in fact for the most part it’s mercifully free of production effects. These tracks sound like fairly natural analogue recordings on the whole but Oté Maloya isn’t primarily recommended for its sound quality, the music is far better.  Some of the tracks can be found on YouTube but the thin MP3 sound does them a disservice, this album is a doorway into a parallel rhythmic universe it deserves better.

Jason Kennedy