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Tarika: Soul Makassar

One of the most beguiling sounds to have come out of Madagascar in the past several years has come from Tarika, a joyful ensemble but also one that doesn’t seem interested in stoking any kind of status quo. On the band’s latest, Soul Makassar (Triloka 70000; 61:04), the sound, infused with the influence of and guest musicians from Indonesia, ventures outward from its Malagasy roots-or does it? Singer Hanitra Rasoanaivo traveled to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, reaching out to a seminal link in heritage: Indonesian explorers settled on Madagascar 1,500 years ago, and traditions remain on the island. The resulting album, with guests from Bandung, Saluwesi and Jakarta interacting with the members of the group, is exotic and natural all at once. Chattering African guitars and Indonesian percussion get along marvelously. Hanitra’s sweet, understated vocals sail atop a happily hybridized cultural ensemble fabric.

Originally Published