Madagascar: Goodbye East, Goodbye West
Western Vinyl

Baltimore quartet Madagascar (Michael and Anthony Lambright, Justin Lucas, Ian McDonald) crafts a memorable gypsy-folk hybrid on its second album Goodbye East, Goodbye West. Moods range from jubilant to funereal in the collection's six songs, with the band's nucleus of accordion, saw, glockenspiel, acoustic guitar, bass, and percussion occasionally joined by a wordless vocal or two.

As uplifting in spirit as a summer afternoon in the countryside, the bucolic wheeze of accordion, strum of acoustic guitar, and tinkle of glockenspiel combine to create the gentle waltz flow of “When Last We Heard of Gentlemen.” A warbling saw joins the tinkling percussion and accordion in the somber yet stately “The River in Its Sunday Garb.” The mood is equally crestfallen in the opening third of “Imperium in Imperio,” which resembles a lament played during a memorial processional, but the mood brightens in its middle section where the song becomes a macabre waltz. There's also a brief rendition of the Chanukah staple “S'vivon” before the titular lullaby waltz ends the album as dreamily as it began. Throughout this thirty-three mini-album, Madagascar sounds like a marvelous street collective who've developed a simpatico rapport without losing the purity of their initial music-making sessions.

June 2007