The electro Maloya experiments of Jako Maron by Jako Maron

Release date: June 18, 2018
Label: Nyege Nyege Tapes

Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote: “Do I still have ears? Am I all ear and nothing else? Here I stand amidst the fire of the surf, whose white flames are licking at my feet.” Is this not the ultimate goal of music? To turn the listener itself into a resonance chamber, with all of the renunciation of the day-to-day that entails? The skin reverberating alongside the tympanum of the ear?

Perhaps the second half of the quote should be viewed as a moment of instruction, an urge to find a topological place where this music can be created. Assuredly, Nietzsche did not mean this as a literal place – it is likely a spectre of ancient Greece, an invocation of Epicurus staring out at the sea. But if we were to take the white flames of the sea and the fire of the surf as a geographical signpost, one would be hard-pressed to find a better avatar than Réunion, whence Jako Maron hails, a small, hyper-cosmopolitan island near Madagascar, frequently wracked by volcanic eruptions

His recently released The electro Maloya experiments of Jako Maron (on the roundly excellent Nyege Nyege Tapes label) would seemingly make a strong argument for Réunion as the precise site of Nietzsche’s otic metamorphosis. Spread across 11 tracks, Maron plays his stripped-down version of Réunion’s native maloya music seemingly on the drumhead of history, reducing the music to its barest elements and recreating them on modular synths to echo both forward and backward simultaneously. It can have a stunning effect.

The binary and tertiary beats of the tracks seem like off-kilter techno, wobbling and worming into the ear. Maloya has its roots, like the blues, in the historical wound of slavery, and, as such, hearing it in such an electronic way might seem alienating. Even blasphemous. But Maron employs a deft touch, which honors the music. The alienation is, in fact, the point, as it forces one to consider the inhumanity of the very historical forces that have made maloya so potent as an art form (one which is sadly under-known by the outside world). The hypnotic, repetitious songs do, seemingly, reduce the listener to an ear, one that must consider this music, which emanates out of the past like a haunting melody. And like a haunting, one can’t entirely shake it off, either. Once you start listening, you’ll find it hard to stop. Because, in the end, despite being freighted with all this weight, it’s still also a collection of beautiful and surprising pieces of music that alternately make you want to dance and have an anxiety attack on a beach while a volcano erupts around you.

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