Boomkat Product Review:
Réunion island's Jako Maron re-interprets the revolutionary sound of maloya on his debut album, now reissued with a bonus EP of seriously headmashing gear for fans of DJ Python, Pan Sonic, or Authentically Plastic.
Not far from Madagascar lies Réunion, a French-governed island that was colonized in the 19th century and populated with enslaved peoples from Madagascar and West Africa, and indentured laborers from South India. One of the most unique musical styles to emerge from the island is called maloya, a percussive mode that sets call-and-response vocals over undulating 6/8 beats. It's a style of music that was assumed to be so revolutionary that it was banned by the French authorities in the 1960s, when Jako Maron was born. And since the '90s, Maron has been attempting to fuse the genre with ideas he's imported from techno, dub and beyond.
"The Electro Maloya Experiments of Jako Maron" was originally released by Nyege Nyege in 2018 on cassette, and has now been given the deluxe reissue treatment. It's a typically head-expanding set that retains the crucial time signature of maloya, switching the tabla, conga and local rattle sounds that usually make up the percussive base with electronic thuds, clicks, and zaps. And although he doesn't often use vocals, Maron adds synthesizers to stand in for that expected back-and-forth that swing through the beats with surprising grace. This isn't yer obvious dance music, it's layered and deviously complex - not so much in the rhythms themselves but in the swing, that offers a woozy inconsistency that's tough to approximate with electronics.
There aren't any dull moments here, and early high points come from 'Maloya Valsé chok 1' and 'Malabanndélé'. The former is astonishingly fresh, coming off like a Sahkö jam that shakes differently, while the latter sounds as if it's a dataset used to teach an algorithm to work outside of standard rhythmic templates, dubbed into blunted bliss. The bonus tracks are worth a peep too: 'Ugly Ségess' is almost lurching dubstep, and 'Lucioles' is a pared-down whirr that's more hypnotic and rhythmically challenging than anything Donato Dozzy has put his stamp on. Massive recommendation.