'10: Beasts, Ghosts & Dancing with History, is a breathtaking showcase, highlighting...
Rose Skelton 2004
This collection of songs from Madagascar's well-loved Afropop band is an interesting,pleasing yet challenging,ten year retrospective of their work. The African quintet started back in 1994 with traditional Malagasy roots music tempered for a modern, cosmopolitan market and through their popularity stirred up the African island's music industry that had slackened somewhat under years of corrupt governmental rule.
Tarika, led by sisters Hanitra and Noro Raharimala, not only turned the world's eyes upon them by bringing the beats and instruments of Madagascar's ethnic groups into the pop domain but also released concept albums that focused on political and historical points, often acting as catalysts to progressive change. 10: Beasts, Ghosts & Dancing with History brings a selection of songs from these albums, as well as some previously unreleased remixes and videos, together in one packed collection.
With harps, gourds, lutes and zithers, the album takes the listener on a journey through the band's life. The opening track, "Tsy Kivy", a highlight matched only by "Sonegaly", another track from the same album (Son Egal, 1997), is an explosive hit of tight rhythms and kora melody, strong female vocals and the gorgeous, unmistakable voice of the talking tama drum. The songs that follow include Malagasy proverbs about death, stories of rickshaw-pullers, tales of the spirits and wild beasts, and lyrical musings on the sweet, tasty delicacies of the tropical Indian Ocean island.
The album is packed with complex rhythms, appearances from artists from all over the world playing instruments that range from the Hammond organ to the jejy voatavo (a gourd-resonating stringed instrument), and styles that go from rootsy reggae to jijy, the local form of rap.
Each song shows the tremendous strength of the band but the collection in its entirety can leave the listener, particularly a newcomer, feeling a little overwhelmed. Still, Tarika have moved mountains with their music, bringing international attention to Madagascar's deep roots and rich musical culture and 10: Beasts, Ghosts & Dancing with History, is a breathtaking showcase, highlighting just what they are capable of.