Riverboat Records, 2002
A wickedly eclectic goulash of Musette, Bluegrass, Blues, bolero, Creole quadrille, polka, Caribbean and East-Indian styles like Sega and Maloya, Digdig is a meeting between La Réunion's vocalist/accordionist/guitarist René Lacaille and island hopper/California resident Bob Brozman on charango and Hawaiian, bottleneck and Spanish guitars, accompanied on various percussion, shakers and additional vocals by Bernard Marka and Joel Gonthier.
Volcanic L'Ile de la Réunion lies 600 miles east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Its culture is a mix of original French colonialists, African and Indian slaves and later settlers from the Arabian/Chinese trade routes. For Brozman's ongoing island recording projects, French/Canadian WorldBeat specialist Jean Beauchesne introduced Bob to Lacaille who had traded his native tropical habitat for France in 1979 to pursue Jazz and Fusion interests. The meeting ground? A music festival on La Réunion. The present recording is the outcome of subsequent recording sessions and a second month-long residence on the island where the results of their collaborations were tested on the natives and music lovers in the Seychelles.
Borrowing heavily from the 6/8 grooves of traditional Réunionnais music that can be counted on 2- or 3-based beats to create instant time gates by merely shifting accents, Digdig's happy-go-lucky vocals are in Creole French; "Debussy à La Réunion" is an impressionist take on Maloya time; "Zok" introduces a Grisman-style Bluegrass vibe with the guitar imitating a twangy dobro; "An Dio" is a Musette accordion waltz's brush with Hawaiian slide guitar; the intermittent appearances of the Peruvian-flavored charango throw the genre hounds hopelessly off their beaten tracks to bark up the wrong trees; the background chorus on "Lang Là" suggests a merengue from Martinique while "Fraka" conjures up French cabaret performers.
In short, Digdig's globe trotting gaiety is impossible to categorize save to say that by listening you'll be hanging with some heavy-duty master improvisers in some ramshackle tin shanty, strong island rum and some smoked tuna on hand while your hosts sing of not having a satellite dish, only a small bowl to catch everything in, no Internet, having it all in their heads in capital letters. Makes you long for an extended vacation in some tropical, tourist-safe island paradise...