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Madagascar is a self-contained paradise both for naturalists and music lovers, with species and peculiarities forged by the fact that it is an island distinct from the rest of Africa and the world. Modeste Hugues was born with the surname Randramahitasoa, which he subsequently sidelined for obvious reasons, in the southern Madagascan town of Betroka. He only picked up the guitar at the age of 15, even though his mother sang well and his uncle was a keen accordionist. He taught himself to play on a self-made instrument replete with fish line strings but also took up the mervan, a 24 stringed Madagascan harp with a box shaped body. His inspirations were the music of his home region and the sounds of the bush, the birds, whistling of the shepherds in the hills. Modeste began to perform with his brother Zariny Albert at local functions but then left for Bulgaria at the age of 26 with a scholarship from UNESCO to pursue a post-graduate degree in electrical engineering. But music never left him and after moving first to Greece with his Greek wife and then to London he began performing again at Madagascan community events and less arcane occasions like the Diaspora Festival. The Kashmir Klub also became a favorite haunt due to its inclusive and open music programming policy. Modeste has recently teamed up with Dale Hansen, a half-Greek percussionist and producer, and they are working on a new CD together.