Festa - Tribali
If the Mediterranean gave birth to the ancient and modern epochs of civilization, then by extension, the island of Malta should represent the geographic centre of it all. Smack dab in the middle of the Med, south of Sicily and north of Tunisia, Malta, apart from its Apostolic significance has been touched by cultural winds from all directions. So it’s not surprising but ultimately fulfilling that in Malta, on the beach, two musicians, Antoine (percussion, drums, harmonica and voice) and Grigal (didgeridoo, Murchunga, Tuvan throat singing and voice) began jamming. They were joined by Peter Paul (yes, the story really does sound apostolic). Another percussionist who also plays cahon and the Swiss-made Hang, he had just returned from India with some fresh musical ideas. More time passed and Adriano (bass and guimbri or sintar, the bass voiced North African lute) joined the jam followed by Jo, later replaced by Jean Pierre on acoustic and electric sitars, guitars and banjo. And so there, on the island of Malta, where the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked and befriended by strangers, another book begins; the Acts of Tribali, world fusion from the belly of the beast. Their international release, Festa is a beautiful album that utilizes these ‘foundational’ instruments of global fusion to excellent effect. The band explains, “From the very beginning of this project we always had in mind to use different traditional instruments from around the world. Nowadays we are still in search for new ones, and in each album we always introduce some.” Global music fans live for these inventive arrangements but the litmus test of listenability nearly always comes down to the strength of the compositions. Here’s where Festa displays considerable grace. Far from pondering jams or aimless dreamscapes, the disc is comprised of tight, concise, well constructed moments of global delight. There’s diversity, invention but also amazing accessibility. There are elements of blissed out tribal and entrancing chill but it rocks with eyes wide open. The driving jewel, Danda Nevi is a choice example. And, while Tribali scour the world for more new sounds, they are a rare instance of the prophet being embraced at home. The band was awarded Best Band, Best Album, Best Image and Best Album Cover at the Malta Music Awards. It really is a beautiful package.