|2||Maloya Valsé Chok 1||4:23|
|5||Fanali Dann Bwa||6:58|
|6||An Lér Si Lo Bor||9:40|
|7||Papiyon Zerb Zon||4:22|
|11||Dobout' Dann Ron||3:34|
Originally released on cassette in 2018, now available as an expanded edition on vinyl.
Jako Maron was born and raised on Réunion, a small island in the Indian Ocean not far from Madagascar that's governed by the French Republic. The primary musical form to emerge from Réunion is maloya, a percussion-forward call-and-response style that differs from séga, another popular local genre, due to its lack of harmonic elements. Maloya was developed in the 19th century, when enslaved peoples from Madagascar and West Africa were taken to the island by French colonists who wanted to exploit the country's sugar cane and cotton fields; indentured laborers from South India also traveled to Réunion, bringing with them their own musical traditions. The sound then represented Réunion's own Créole musical language, using the keyamb, a sugar cane rattle, the Indian tabla, a barrel drum known as the roulér, a bamboo percussion instrument called the pikér, and other tools.
Because maloya was such an emotionally charged expression from a suppressed underclass, it inevitably became associated with political revolution. This was a sound that was developed for and by the workers, and when France made the island an "overseas département" in 1946, maloya became synonymous with independence and freedom. As its popularity increased, so did its perceived danger, and the French government banned the music in the 1960s, only lifting the restriction years later in the 1970s. Once the ban was over, musicians began experimenting wholeheartedly with the form, splintering it into radically different sub-genres. Maron, who was born during the prohibition in 1968, was fascinated by the genre's open endedness and has been working to integrate it with electronic music since the 1990s, when techno and house sounds reverberated across the island from the USA, through Europe, Africa and beyond.
Using modular synthesizers and drum machines, Maron offers a completely unique take on maloya. Like Charanjit Singh's disco-cum-acid raga fusions in the early 1980s, or more recently Equiknoxx's innovative and deeply personal fragmentation of Jamaican dancehall, Maron's electro maloya experiments take an initial idea and shuttle it across unfamiliar sonic landscapes. The all-important 6/8 beat is at the core of his music, with electronic thuds, zips and pings standing in for hand drums and congas, while the usually vocal call-and-response elements are handed off to wheezing synthesizers. 'Batbaté Maloya' is an appropriate introduction, with familiar electronic sounds used in surprising patterns - the maloya beat is the most striking element, but Maron adds effects, processes and swing that can't help but inspire comparisons to db reggae and dembow formulations.
But he never stays in the same place for long. When Maron edges into minimalism, like on the cybernetic 'Maloya Valsé chok 1', his unsettling mood and noisy, percussive framework harmonizes with similarly prismatic grooves from Pan Sonic, or the Raster Noton catalog. And when he approaches long-form on 'Fanali dann bwa', it sounds as if he's integrating dubstep pressure with psychedelic kosmische sounds, submerging the beat beneath hypnotic synth wobbles and squeals. Maron's relentless examination of maloya and its application within electronic music is endlessly invigorating, and across 15 tracks (four are exclusive to this new vinyl edition) he makes a convincing case for the genre's continuing relevance as unshakable protest music.