The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tony Hil­lier

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.

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