WOMAD: Malmesbury, England, July 29-31, 2011
Another of the weekend's outstanding sets was delivered by something of an outsider figure, from the poly-cultural Réunion Island. Danyèl Waro, whose wild thatch and thick-rimmed glasses lent the appearance of an alternative physicist, sings in Creole, and plays in the maloya folkloric tradition. To the virgin ear (or even the experienced ear), his music was rich with elements of traditions from Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, France, Madagascar and Cape Verde, at the very least. Waro's vocals soared expressively, and the bulk of the instrumental backing was constructed with percussion patterns, often played as a cross-weave of minimalist parts. One player was kicking and scraping his drum with his heel, whilst tinkling a tiny, tiny triangle. Such sparse constructions were capable of creating the greatest musical substance. The interplay of the quintet was astounding, heightened by their frequent swapping of percussion instruments. The dominant sound was that of the kayamb, a large rattle in a rectangular tray-like shape, shaken persistently from side to side. Waro might not be the best man to bring in the cocktails at your soirée.