Sunday, November 09, 2008

KILEMA - Mena (Snail Records)

A sunny, upbeat tone is to be heard on the new album by Madagascan marovany player Kilema, who teases chiming, skittish notes from his twelve-string box-zither on fifteen busy, breezy tunes that fly by on a blend of strummed or picked acoustic guitars, kabosy (another Madagascan box guitar), and percussion. You probably won’t hear a catchier melody than that on Vali-Babe, which zips along on that familiar, chugging Madagascan 6/8 rhythm. Raha Loza also has a recognisably summery Indian Ocean vibe, with Kilema trilling over flamenco influenced guitar and a pit-a-pat rhythm. At times the delicacy of Kilema’s vocals need buttressing by stronger singers, although its soft, harmonious timbre matches the tender nature of the music, and there are pleasing diversions into samba and various Malagasy flavours to keep it all interesting. With melodica and calabash added to the mix and the occasional slower track bringing a welcome breather to what could have run the risk of being a one-paced album, you can start Mena at any point (or iPod shuffle it) and be sure of high-quality effervescent music every time.

Snail Records

Distributed by Coast to Coast

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