**Includes Koba and Malalako from Tarika’s 2001 album Soul Makassar – both featured in the new IMAX film Island Of Lemurs: Madagascar with Morgan Freeman. Plus the ‘Big Island Radio Mix’ of their first Madagascar No.1 hit Raitra (as featured in the 2007 Scarlett Johansson film The Nanny Diaries), the rare Aloka from the Soul Makassar sessions, a fabulous live recording of Ady (a song off their celebrated Son Egal album) from the main stage of the 1997 Womad Festival, and the ‘Franglais Mix’ of Koba.**
TARIKA, led by the charismatic Hanitrarivo Rasoanaivo, were one of the hardest working and most continually creative bands on the international World Music circuit and were Madagascar’s most successful musical export. Indeed, in September 2001, the USA’s Time magazine included Tarika in their list of the Top 10 bands in the world (others in that Top 10 included U2, Radiohead and Portishead!).
From the outset they evolved a unique, modern blend from the roots musics of the different regions of their Indian Ocean island home, strongly featuring local instruments in a way that was described as “virtuoso traditional music with the energy of punk rock!”. They achieved, with apparent ease, a breathtaking mix of buoyant grooves, tight harmonies, infectious melodies, wild instruments, energetic dancing and captivating presentation, all the while delivering hard-hitting political and social commentary. They were a live hit all over North America and Europe and their albums topped the World Music charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Eventually, after years of being forced by economic and political circumstances to tour abroad, they also achieved spectacular success and iconic status back home.
For a brief time in the early ’90s, Hanitra (pronounced “Anch”) led another traditionally-rooted group in Madagascar, the first to really adopt a professional approach to international touring, and unique as a band led by a woman. Songs written by Hanitra or her sister Noro began to address challenging, controversial subjects such as the situation of women in Malagasy society, beginning to push the boundaries of Malagasy roots music. This group split up at the end of 1993, and so Hanitra put together TARIKA in early 1994.
Hanitra and Noro were Tarika’s live focus, delivering fabulous sibling harmonies, driving percussion and spirited dancing. The band’s instrumental side featured a specially designed and crafted array of up-dates of traditional Malagasy instruments – marovany (box zither), valiha (bamboo zither), kabosy (the small Malagasy guitar), jejy voatavo (gourd dulcimer) – alongside guitar and bass – and the other three members were all multi-instrumentalists/ singers. Donné, a top all-round musician on marovany, valiha, kabosy, melodeon and percussion had long experience in traditional music, including touring in Malagasy bands Voninavoko and the Malagasy All-Stars. Ny Ony came from the group Solomiral whose members all regularly worked with Madagascar’s top modern artists: one of Madagascar’s best guitarists and bassists, and a fine kabosy player. Solo had travelled the island with the vakodrazana (traditional music) group led by his father: he too played bass guitar, kabosy, valiha, marovany and percussion, and added the bass voice to the famous Tarika harmonies.
Tarika’s well-received 1994 debut album Bibiango addressed more thought-provoking issues, with strong questions about priorities and values. They toured intensively before their second CD Son Egal was released in 1997, produced by Afro Celt Sound System’s Simon Emmerson and Martin Russell. On a creative surge and tackling powerful historic and political themes of racism, colonialism and reconciliation, it received rave reviews in Europe and the USA (everywhere from The Times to Playboy!), shot to the top of the European World Music Charts and spent an unprecedented 8 weeks at No.1 (15 weeks in the top 5) on the CMJ World Music Chart in the USA. In Madagascar, released at a time of political upheaval, it received saturation airplay and acted as a catalyst for social changes. They were nominated in the 1997 Kora All-African Music Awards and won the 1998 AFIM Indie Award for Contempory World Music Album in the USA.
Hanitra kicked off 1998 working with Mali’s Oumou Sangare, South Africa’s Sibongile Khumalo and Cameroun’s Sally Nyolo as part of the hit Women Of Africa tour (with Tarika’s Donné in the house band) that sold out all venues across the UK and Europe. Tarika then got to work on their third album D, a nice contrast to the intensity of Son Egal by being a bright, upbeat, sizzling celebration of Madagascar’s myriad dance styles. It provided them with the massive No.1 hit Raitra at home and another CMJ No.1 in the USA.
Although the Malagasy are usually thought to be African, some of their origins from perhaps 1500 years ago are from Indonesia. In September 1999, Hanitra spent an inspirational month in Sulawesi, Indonesia, uncovering many traces of these long ago ancestors. The stories and ideas she gathered there provide the framework for Tarika’s final album Soul Makassar, recorded in London and Indonesia with Indonesian musicians participating. Another special project with a major theme and yet more variety from their seemingly inexhaustible musical treasury, this last Tarika album immediately became another World Music chart No.1, and one of the most played albums of 2001 on World Music radio shows on both sides of the Atlantic.
Unfortunately, Tarika’s US tour that year kicked off in Manhattan on September 10th 2001. The following day the world changed and the trauma and resulting financial losses of a wrecked tour in the wake of that event meant the end of the group as it was.
Hanitra fulfilled a long-held ambition of opening an Arts Centre, Antshow, at home in Antananarivo. In 2003 she was subject of a major BBC TV documentary The Mad Rhythms Of Madagascar. In more recent times she and sister Noro have occasionally toured with a new, more electric band, Tarika Be.
TARIKA, led by the charismatic Hanitra Rasoanaivo, were one of the hardest working and most creative bands on the
international World Music circuit from 1994 – 2001, winning awards and topping charts in Europe and the USA and enjoying massive hits at home. Time magazine included Tarika in their 2001 list of the Top 10 bands in the world (others in that list included U2, Radiohead and Portishead!)....more