Valimbilo Damily Bongo Joe The music of Madagascar is as diverse and distinctive as the Indian Ocean island nation’s fauna, flora and geography. The artist/band known as Damily is an institution in the country’s remote southwest — a region of fishermen, miners and ranchers, from where he/they have perfected a style known as tsapiky over the past 30 years. Even though performed on drumheads fashioned from zebu cattle pelts, equally battered electric guitars and other DIY gear, this relatively obscure music form is not lacking in sophistication or accessibility. Indeed, the compelling groove attained by the genre’s premier practitioner would generate gyration on any dance club floor in the world. In its neck of the Madagascar woods, tsapiky, which doubles as a voodoo-esque remedy for various ills, reportedly provides a backdrop to weddings, parties and funerals for days on end. Listening to Valimbilo, Damily’s debut international release, is more a physical than cerebral experience, though the songs contained therein evidently cover all manner of topics — from the danger posed by zebu and juju, to closing commentaries that, in local lingo, relate to plain speaking (“Say what’s on your mind, say it because your tongue has been burning for too long”) and the topsy-turvy nature of life (“The globe is spinning backwards, we better get home before it is totally upside down”). Sizzling extended jams set the album’s overarching tone, with fuzzy-toned staccato electric guitar licks reminiscent of Congolese soukous, high-pitched male and female vocals, thudding drumbeats and effervescent bass lines. An acoustic guitar solo and choral showcases act as buffers between the frenetic, euphoric cadence of the protracted party music pieces.