Tarika"Bibiango” Xenophile* Times Line(tm): 808-8463. To hear...




* Times Line(tm): 808-8463. To hear an excerpt from “Bibiango,” call TimesLine and press * 5540


For the two-volume “World Out of Time” compilation, musicians Henry Kaiser and David Lindley went to Madagascar; the recordings they emerged with helped shed light on a rich and exciting musical tradition.

Among the highlights of both volumes were several songs by Tarika Sammy. The group went on to record two albums for Xenophile (a division of Green Linnet) that scored on world music charts; alas, multi-instrumentalist Sammy and the two sisters that provided the group’s exquisite harmony vocals parted company in 1993.

The sisters, Hanitra and Noro (all go by single monikers professionally) have assembled a new band and call it simply, Tarika, Malagasy for “the group.” Their debut, “Bibiango,” reveals a polished blend of Madagascar’s regional musical styles, pumped up slightly with guitar, bass and extra percussion.

The hallmarks of Tarika Sammy remain: delicate yet hypnotic instrumental interplay among Malagasy versions of the zither, dulcimer and guitar, paired with the aforementioned vocal harmonies. Both music and vocals recall African and Indonesian elements, reflecting the island nation’s mixed heritage, but the resulting blend is something all its own.


Mostly acoustic, the music on “Bibiango” shows an impressive range of tempo and mood. The energetic “Ankoay” comes off like an unplugged version of Central African guitar pop, while the tinkling “Haintany” is a heartbreakingly pretty lament for the victims of a 1992 drought in southern Madagascar. The angular rhythms of “Fomba” and “Didy” add yet another wrinkle. The vocals are wonderful throughout, but the a cappella piece “Zanane” is a showstopper.

All the singing is in Malagasy, a language with Indonesian roots, but the lyrics are translated in the CD booklet. They show a compassionate social sense and a sophisticated way with metaphor.

Tarika plays Saturday, Jan. 28, at 7 and 9 p.m. at the La Sala Auditorium of the San Juan Capistrano Library, 31495 El Camino Real, San Juan Capistrano. $3 to $5. (714) 493-1752.