Bob Brozman & René Lacaille

This sophisticated, airy music was born on L’Ile de la Réunion, a sugar island resting in the Indian Ocean. The island’s shifting, shimmering rhythms are introduced to the Western listener by the collaboration of Réunionais master musician René Lacaille and American guitarist Bob Brozman.

To say this is a bright island groove of maloya and sega is only scratching the surface. Digdig is downright charming, and the good feeling contained in the music is actually quite contagious.

This is a string-driven rhythmic fantasia woven by Brozman’s slide guitar and enhanced by the accordion and cabaret-style singing of Lacaille. The maloya (a modal African style) and sega (derived from musette, the French colonial style of song) have familiar aural elements in Delta blues and Gypsy swing. The mesmerizing time signature known as 6/8 somehow always finds a way into island music everywhere, but on this particular island they’ve added accents that bounce between the 2nd and 3rd beats, so the rhythms pulse and shift like light reflecting on water. Adding depth to this gentle and joyous music, the core percussion is a low throbbing drum; the gentle shaker sound is from the kayamb, made from sugar cane flower stalks filled with seeds, while a triangle adds light accents.

This is elegant tropical beach party music in a style that is like no other in the world. Mood music to put people in a good mood, Digdig is a genuine small masterpiece and a strong contender for this year’s best world music record.