Album Review of

Written by Joe Ross
November 13, 2022 - 3:41pm EST
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Following their 2020 Palaces album, Kiteky is the fourth release from Electric Vocuhila, a powerful French quartet featuring Maxime Bobo (sax), Arthur Delaleu (electric guitar), François Rosenfeld (bass) and Etienne Ziemniak (drums).  During the past decade, Electric Vocuhila has been developing a legion of fans for their dynamic, uplifting songs inspired by contemporary African urban or ceremonial music. Flavored with colorings of rock and jazz, the musicians demonstrate a notable mastery of such styles as Congolese sebene, Zimbabwean sungura, and Malagasy tsapiky. Kiteky is dedicated to the inspiring tsapiky musicians they met during a tour in Madagascar just before recording the album.

While some of their tracks may sound a bit frenetic at times, I appreciate Electric Vocuhila’s musical individuality. I’d be curious to see how they’d sound in a collaborative effort with traditional musicians who play Madagascar’s zithers, end-blown flute, fiddle, flute, along with some call-and-response singing. Rather, this quartet takes a unique, more rawboned and punk-like approach to the cocktail of African musics with their sax, guitar, bass and percussion.  Their signature sound is best illustrated in tracks like “Mangaliba,” “Swift,” “Arthur Never Sleeps” and “Kidola Dola.” “Toliara,” “Kasaï Charm,” “Kin” and “445” explore a few sounds and rhythms from other parts of Africa. Their mesmerizing mix and good vibes guarantee a big success at your house party.  

The title cut, “Kiteky” has become a hit in Tuléar (Toliara, the cradle of tsapiky), where the joyous music is used during burial and reburial ceremonies.  Malagasy people give great respect to their ancestors who still exist on a spiritual level, and Electric Vocuhila channels some of that same wild, glorious feeling that involves a whole day of feasting, drinking, dancing, celebrating and rowdy merry-making.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)