Boomkat Product Review:
Killer compilation ocumenting the groundbreaking maloya scene on Réunion Island from the mid-‘70s, as Western instrumentation joined traditional Malagasy, African and Indian acoustic instruments to spark a whole era of new fusions and creativity. Compiled by Réunionese DJ duo La Basse Tropicale, ‘Oté Maloya’ follows up last year’s acclaimed ‘Soul Sok Séga’ release on Strut.
"Traditional maloya, originally called “séga”, described the songs, music and dances of slaves on the sugar plantations of Réunion Island in the 17th Century – maloya ceremonies paid tribute to ancestors and mediated between the living and the dead. The music and culture began to be more widely accepted by Réunionese society from the 1930s as folklorist Georges Fourcade began to play maloya songs. By the ‘50s, maloya tracks were appearing on 78rpm releases and, in the ‘60s, it was used as a form of cultural protest music.
In the mid-‘70s, a new generation began exploring new directions in the music, using Créole language; many were self-taught and learned their craft in 1960s dance band “orchestres”. André Chan-Kam-Shu’s Studio Royal in the south of the island became the main hub for experimentation and collaboration. Most notably, the band Caméléon honed their sound here – with maloya legends Alain Peters and vocalist Hervé Imare involved, Caméléon became the leading collective on the scene, using poetic lyrics and creating their own potent fusion of maloya, jazz and psychedelia.
‘Oté Maloya’ tells the story of this fertile period in Réunion Island music for the first time and features the full spectrum of maloya styles. From Caméléon’s genius to the teenage Michou’s classic ‘Maloya Ton Tisane’, Daniel Sandié’s breakbeat sleeper ‘Défoule 3e Age’ and more traditional styles from Maxime Lahope and Pierrot Vidot, this is an essential trip through a lost era of Indian Ocean blues and soul."