Maya Kamaty: Pandiyé

September 18, 2019

Don’t Mind the Gap

Listening Post 219. Maloya and the Creole of her native Réunion were the chosen causes of Maya Pounia’s musician father and storyteller mother—activists in the movement to preserve a music heritage long suppressed and a language long marginalized. The teenaged pink-haired Maya listened to rock and pop, wanted to be a stewardess and ultimately went to study in mainland France. But separated from her culture, she craved it, gravitating toward other students from her Indian Ocean island, France’s most distant overseas département; she sang maloya and played its instruments—kayamb (bamboo shaker) and roulèy (drum). She also adopted the middle/stage name “Kamaty” from a tenacious, intense townswoman her father often spoke of. Back home, in 2014 she launched her debut disc of bluesy maloya-folk. On her second album she leaps into an electro-maloya sound of her own making. In 11 songs on Pandiyé (“suspended” in Réunion Creole), she floats over more chasms than a trapeze artist—between tradition and modernity, reflection and imagination, sadness and joy, the already blended music of home (maloya emerged from African and Malagasy slaves and Indian indentured laborers) and influences from the wider world. Her voice is sensual, bewitching, volcanic, her lush stories evoking childhood and family, dreamscapes and ancient legends. Acoustic instruments keep the music rooted and the electronic programming never floods the soil. The title track glides through a landscape of incense, incantations and flowers, Hindu ceremony and multi-ethnic accents (video 1). Closer to classic maloya is Diampar, a call-and-response dance of runaway slaves (video 2). Akoz (Because) expresses contained fury at age-old prejudice that surfaced when Sri Lankan refugees arrived in Réunion (video 3). Diya (Blessed Flame) is a quest for clarity on questions of struggle, courage and knowledge (video 4). Pandiyé is a tableau of suspended images and memories from which Maya Kamaty transforms music and identity into a bridge between eras, sounds and hearts. (Vlad)

Maya Kamaty Pounia: Vocals, kayamb
Moana Apo: Programming
Stéphane Lépinay: Guitar
Dylan Marvillier: Drums

Additional musicians
Kilik Payet: Guitar
Bastien Picot: Chorus
Ann Drula: Chorus
Ouriel Ellert: Bass
Natasha Rogers: Congas
Jonathan Itéma: Morlon, malbar drums
Gaëtan Mroimana, Morlon, malbar drums
Rémi Cazal: Moog Sub Phatty
Karim Attoumane: Guitar
Loy Erhrlich: Viola d’amore, gumbass
Yessai Kerapatian: Piano

Pandiyé encompasses 11 songs: Nine sung in Réunion Creole, one in Maurician Creole and one in English.


Lyrics & music: Maya Kamaty Pounia, Gilbert Pounia, Moana Apo, Stéphane Lépinay

(from the Réunion Creole lyrics)
Like a valiha*/Kali* in flower necklace
Intertwined/In the hollow of the arms of souls
Tart childhood/From an afternoon love
My body set/With tender nicknames

Like a spinning top/Bewitched
Prepared for the ball/In a sleight of hand
Excitation/Immediately ready
For the heavenly parade/Of the Gods

Blending of drum sounds/Suspended
Light from the sacred tree/The march of a brazier

Like a ceremonial kora
Asphalt road/To do the dance of life
This is my sanctuary/Bitter petals
Peeled lemons/In the sacred foliage

Like the sitar/In my sleepless nights
A chalice of milk/Watching over life
Crazy awakening/On crossed paths
The boats of time/In a great uproar

Blend of drum sounds/Suspended
Light from the treetops/The march of a brazier

*Valiha: Tube zither from Madagascar
*Kali: Hindu goddess


Lyrics & music: Maya Kamaty Pounia, Gilbert Pounia

(from the Réunion Creole lyrics)
Diampar Matout Simangavol/Runaway slaves
On the steep paths/The nameless peaks
The drums fall silent/At dusk
No maloya/Mussard prowling

Tonight the full moon, a dance of memory
Tonight, very late, a hidden dance
Tonight, a feast, we will dance history
Tonight Three Mares a proud blend

I’ll spin in a parade of swallows
I will tenderly slide in on weak bubbling water
I will fly like a ramrod to the sacred drums
I will shine like the evening star in a sky dotted with stars

I will plunder the flesh of the earth in the heart of a pearly field
I will excavate the secrets of ballads sung by the sages
I will open my poetry to the footsteps of the blues
I’ll flow in green honey to embrace the cabarets


Lyrics & music: Maya Kamaty Pounia

(from the Réunion Creole lyrics)
Why/The l
ightning in your eyes
Your tight jaw/All this anger?

Your viper’s tongue/Shrill drum
Disturbing/My sleep?

Yet there was, it seems to me
A semblance of love
Some gentle words

When words spread insidiously/Unpleasant and hot
They ultimately tarnish your reputation

Why/Does your foul mouth
Even when closed/Lash my back?

Why/This bitterness
When you tell lies behind my back/Each lie a burden?

And then one day, a beautiful day/By the force of distortion
Your body lets go/Like a sleepy note
Like the sun/Smothering your soul with all its weight

Why/The lightning in your eyes
Your tight jaw/All this anger?

Your viper’s tongue/Shrill drum
Disturbing/My sleep?

Why/Does your foul mouth
Even when closed/Lash my back?

Why/This bitterness?
When you peddle your gossip/Everyone bears the burden


Lyrics & music: Michel Ducasse, Maya Kamaty Pounia, Kilik Payet

(from the Mauritian Creole lyrics)
On the paths of your light/
Tell me, diya*
If the night embraces the sky/Tell me, my brother
If distress grows into rebellion/Tell me, mama
Where the waves engulf the sun

On the paths of your light/Tell me, diya
If my courage spreads wings/Tell me, my brother
If the thunder splits the sky/Tell me, mama
If children grow up equal

For each of my steps/On the roads, in the desert
Guide me, diya/Guide me with your light

On the paths of your light/Tell me, diya
When I’m sad before of the lingam*/Tell me, my brother
The circle of days exhausts the flame/Tell me, mama
If all our volcanoes go to sleep

On the paths of your light/Tell me, diya
When you enlighten my ignorance/Tell me, my brother
In our hearts that are silent/Tell me, mama
If our karma returns as it was

*diya: In Hindu ritual, blessed flame
*lingam: In Hindu ritual, divine energy





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