This 1978 LP on French label Expression Spontanée documents vernacular folk music from the Seychelles Islands, North of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. The two main artists, Boboï and Tonpa, respectively 74 and 75 years old, sing in a particular version of Creole language. The LP’s liner notes dub them “the last story teller-musicians” as the writer fears the tradition will be lost in the archipelago after them, not to mention the then recent invasion of neighbor Mauritius’ sega music. All songs are traditionals, even if Tonpa clearly elaborates his own, personal version of a song like Jellelo et Anne-Marie. Accompanying himself on the Zêze, a bowed instrument with a gourd resonator used to provide a steady rhythm to the narration, Tonpa delivers a stunning, mostly spoken, vocal performance, halfway between Harry Bellafonte’s whispered lullabies and Keiji Haino’s raucous shouts. Boboï’s performance is more intimate and melodic. He plays a simple bowed instrument without resonator called a Bombe.
Mémoire Musicale des Iles Seychelles
01 La Première Parole (3:16)
02 Jellelo et Anne-Marie (13:34)
03 Katounou (3:52)
04 Le Moutia (2:53)
05 Kandou (2:45)
06 Toc, Mon Cateau Nosibé (2:14)
07 Ça Qui Pour Moi, Pour Toi (2:38)
08 Contre-Danse (a) (2:38)
09 Contre-Danse (b) (2:28)
10 Contre-Danse (c) (2:46)
11 Contre-Danse (d) (2:42)
Total time 41:50
LP released by Expression Spontanée, ref. ES62, France, 1978
Post-scriptum on Expression Spontanée:
There were several Marxist record companies in France during the 1970s (Le Chant du Monde, for instance), but Expression Spontanée was almost Stalinist in its approach to record releases. Their first records, starting 1968, were German and Italian Communist songs like the ones pictured below:
Luckily for music lovers, label founder Jean Bériac [+] got tired of Class struggle and started releasing folk songs, Feminist songs, film soundtracks and good music. The most famous Expression Spontanée release is the Mai 1968 sound document LP. Their only venture into avantgarde was the collective, free-jazz improvisation Opération Rhino, 1976, featuring Jac Berrocal and Pierre Bastien for the first time on disc.
Expression Spontanée released very few ethnic music, one exception being Gérard Dole’s ‘Bayous de Louisiane – Le Melodeon’ and the present ‘Mémoire Musicale des Iles Seychelles’.