- The folk music of Réunion, a tiny island near Madagascar, reimagined in stripped-down electronic tracks.
- On Jako Maron's The Electro Maloya Experiments, his album for the adventurous Ugandan label Nyege Nyege Tapes, there are almost never more than three loops going at once. You'll hear syncopated shakers and triplet rhythms that aren't common in techno, but otherwise you might not realize he's reinterpreting maloya rhythms from his home island of Réunion, off the coast of Madagascar. Some of these dark, inscrutable synth sketches could even be mistaken for Demdike Stare or Ron Morelli working in minimalist mode. That's what makes this fusion so intriguing: rather than emphasizing the novelty of this folkloric-electronic pairing, Maron opts for a subtler, deeper kind of hybrid.
Very little happens on most of these tracks, and that's OK. They require patience from the listener, and offer reward through the effect of repetition. "Maloya B5160-8" is basically four minutes of one bell-like synth loop fed through a delay effect, with only small tweaks to the drum machine underneath it. "An lér Si Lo Bor" is built around one spookily cinematic arpeggio, like something from the dungeon level of a Super Nintendo game (plus lots of bass). "Maloya Valsé Chok 1" is especially creepy and evocative, with detuned synths whining behind a skeletal beat somewhere between techno and grime.
Maron is at his best when he's building dense percussive webs by layering simple rhythms, like on "Kaféléktro Larivé," which actually becomes less interesting when he introduces a melodic element halfway through. The last track, "Dobout' Dann Ron," is the closest he gets to techno, though like the rest of the album, it's built on maloya's lurching triplet beat. There's great detail in the drum programming here, which makes it sounds like it's being played live, though the rhythms are so perfect that they must be sequenced.
The album plods at times, probably because of the arrangements, which mostly involve muting and unmuting drum channels while the synths continue to loop. You can tell these tracks are raw hardware jams made with limited kit. Still, what they lack in narrative arc, they make up for in the strength of the ingredients they use. The loops draw the listener in to explore their richly textured contours in depth.
01. Batbaté Maloya
02. Maloya Valsé Chok 1
03. Maloya B5160-8
06. Fanali Dann Bwa
07. An lér Si Lo Bor
08. Papiyon Zerb Zon
10. Kaféléktro Larivé
11. Dobout' Dann Ron