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Born Bad Records

Various Artists - Moris Zekler: Fuzz & Soul Sega From 70's Mauritius LP

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A tax haven and dream destination for wealthy travelers, the Republic of Mauritius is a multi-ethnic country that is currently experiencing full economic and social ascension. Banking, textile, tech, tourism industries… in this fast-paced melting pot, business is strong. But not too far from the heavenly beaches and luxurious hotels are quasi-shantytowns, reminding us that a large part of the population, often Creole (of Afro-Malagasy origin) are still excluded from the "economic miracle of Mauritius." These Creoles are mostly descendants of slaves who were deported in mass in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries from Madagascar and the East African coast for the cultivation of spices and coffee and later sugar cane. On the margins of these hellish plantations was secretly created a music called tchiega, chéga or tsiega, a distant cousin of the blues. The music from Mauritius in the 70s found on this compilation naturally evolved from this original sega. Created at the crossroads of Afro-Malagasy, Western and Indian cultures, pop, soul and funk arrangements, syncopated ternary polyrhythms, saturated guitars, psychedelic organs and Creole vocals, this musical phenomenon is as incredible as a tropical flower in bloom.

The Mascarene Archipelago, located in the South Western part of the Indian Ocean includes the islands of Reunion, Mauritius and Rodrigues. Unsullied of human settlement up until 500 years ago, these islands are home to a unique flora and fauna, including the famous dodo, emblem of Mauritius, giant tortoises and the flying fox, a large bat that thrives mostly on raw fruits. Dutch, French and English settlers started trading slaves in Mauritius leading to French King Louis XIV’s terrible ‘code noir’ which was finally abolished in 1835. Followed by the era of commitment, often described as disguised slavery during which hundreds of thousands of contract workers immigrated from India and South-East Asia to provide much needed labor in the plantation system for the widespread cultivation of sugar cane.
Although the origins of sega remain quite unknown, we do know that it contains vocal and percussive practices that originated from Madagascar, Mozambique and East Africa. A social escape and a space for improvisation, satire and verbal jousting, it transcended everyday life and made room for the expression of conflicts and the transgression of taboos. Inseparable from dance, sega is thus exposed as part of a pair: bodies brush against each other, stare at each other, get excited but never touch each other.

The main instrument of sega is the ravanne, a large tambourine-like drum made of a large wooden frame and goat skin. It is accompanied by the maravanne, a rectangular rattle filled with seeds, and also often by a triangle, a bottle, a machete or any metal object that can be hit with a stick. The practice of sega also exists in a ritual and mystical form, forgotten in Mauritius, but still present in Reunion where it creates impressive trances during the "servis malgas”, cults dedicated to ancestors.
Songs of sailors, romances from ancient France, Breton folk traditions, and of course the many rhythmic and melodic contributions from India have certainly influenced sega. The fashionable European ballroom dances (quadrille, scottish, waltz, polka, mazurka) were introduced by the bourgeois circles, then appropriated by the Creole populations who used the repertoires and instruments (violins, mandolins, pianos) to create a first fusion of the genre called "sega salon".

 

Tracklist:

1. Harold Berty - Django

2. Ti l'Afrique - Pop soul Sega

3. Claudio Veeraragoo - Qui fine arrivé

4. Paul Labonne - Ti Malgache

5. Georges Gabriel - Pop Sega

6. The Features of Life - Soul Sabbath

7. Roland Fatime - S.I.L.V.I.E

8. Jean-Claude Gaspard - Machin Sex

9. Joss Henri - Apollo 76

10. Coulouce - Beau père

11. John Kenneth Nelson - Change to maniere 

12. Lelou Menwar - Capito

13. Daniel Debord - Maria