Since the beginning of the group, Electric Vocuhila mixes influences jazz, free jazz and free funk (in reference to Ornette Coleman and its Prime Time Band) and is inspired by various African music, but also of many contemporary Malagasy music (related to artistic movement called the Tsapiky), Zimbabwean and Congolese (like the Sébène and other musics from the Congolese rumba).
In 2015, the group met guitarist Damily and his musicians, one of the largest tsapiky bands. Damily is even at the origin of the beginnings of this current in the south-west of Madagascar. The guitarist now lives near Angers for about fifteen years.
He supported the group in their approach to understanding and understanding this music, which they have been using up to now through recordings and videos, as well as discovering the issues (when the trance that it causes is used to communicate with the ancestors and the healing of the sick) and the contexts in which it is played (mainly marriage and burial ceremonies that last several days).
This meeting gave rise to several compositions for Electric Vocuhila. If the band did not share the stage with Damily, it has already been invited to play in the first part of the famous guitarist, as the music of the jazz band resonates with the authentic pieces tsapiky of the Malagasy artist.
The trip to Madagascar (especially to Tulear) quickly became obvious.
Beyond observing and studying Tsapiky traditions, it is important to understand what can integrate their musical vocabulary, to question their practice, their relation to dance and trance. The ultimate goal of this immersion is, eventually, to share the stage with Malagasy musicians or dancers and to create together a new repertoire quite original, born from this fusion.
When we think of Madagascar, we think of its mafana rhythms, hot, which characterize the north of the country. Down in the south, the heat becomes stifling.
In Tulear, a city carried on the Mozambique Channel, the music is like the weather: boiling. This is how we approach the Tsapiky.
If you want to define the music tsapiky, we hear a hellish beat on batteries zebu skin, electric guitars riddled, high-pitched voices that vibrate your eardrums, a saturated sound and from the hardware tinkered. The musicians, they seem to knit on a groove that appears upside down, at a frantic pace. In practice, the audience is carried away and rubs shoulders with a state of trance.
In a country of music between traditions, evangelization and varieties, the Tsapiky is the terrible child of the class: indomitable, angry as much as jubilant, he built himself on the sidelines by appropriating the repertoire of local “traditional” music for boost it.
Remedy of horse to the misery ambient, the Tsapiky is overbooked: that one gets married, that one buys a new car, that one makes to circumcise his son, that one is depressed, that one buries the ancestors or that they are dug up to party with them, the Tsapiky leads the dance.
Nurtured by sound influences and instruments by Congolese, Kenyan and Mozambican music, Tsapiky has been associated since the 1960s and 1970s with village music from southern Madagascar. The result, borrowed from flavors, is halfway between local traditions and modern daring. The guitar leads the dance and is often supported by the bass-drum combo.
In this project, Electric Vocuhila goes to the source of a contemporary musical trend that has been a strong inspiration for him for many years. On the spot, in Madagascar, the musicians wish to meet the artists who were born with this way of creating, but also to celebrate, to heal, to live. Yes, because the Tsapiky promises to be a real adventure of life.
The collaboration with the Tsapiky musicians or those who live to the rhythm of the Tsapiky is obvious but the goal of the Electric Vocuhila musicians is not to go to Madagascar to come and do the Tsapiky as the purists. It is a question of coming first as an observer to be able to conceive then, in their own way and by drawing on their own musical and artistic experiences, and to find possible convergences with Malagasy artists.
“We do not want to imitate the Tsapiky musicians,” says Maxime Bobo, saxophonist, and keyboardist Electric Vocuhila. “We are interested in the meaning and content of this music, beyond its aesthetic aspect, in order to question and nourish our vision and our way of doing music as we have developed them in places dedicated to music and not – like the tsapiky – in the context of festivals and traditional ceremonies where music has another function (celebration, trance, healing etc …) “.
It will be a question of crossing the road of the Malagasy of Tulear, leaving an open door on the opportunities to play and to feed, during each day of the trip, of all the tradition Tsapiky.
The four boys of Electric Vocuhila already have a clear idea of what they expect: they would like to borrow part of the tradition tsapiky – and why not dance, embodied by professional Malagasy dancers – to create a unpublished show of new compositions inspired by Tsapiky music specially designed during the trip, hand in hand with the artists chosen for this collaboration. A restitution (mixing diffusions of the show and cultural actions) would take place in France, and will be considered also in Madagascar with the contacts of local diffusers which were identified.
In order to better prepare this trip, which will take the form of a residence, Maxime Bobo (saxophonist and keyboardist, member of Electric Vocuhila) will leave in December 2018 to discover Madagascar and its tradition Tsapiky as ambassador of the group. He enjoys a tour of Damily and his group in Madagascar to meet influential broadcasters and a series of Tsapiky artists. Among the identified contacts, the French Institute of Antananarivo and the Alliance Française de Tulear, who seem to be the privileged interlocutors on the project as the musicians of Electric Vocuhila conceived it.
Project planed for 2020-2021