Zero Degree Atoll

Zero Degree Atoll formed in 1987 with childhood friends Nashid and Mohoj collaborating with fellow music aficionado Ahmed. Their debut song Reethi Handhuvaru – about the natural beauty and serenity of the Maldives – was produced together with Worldview International Foundation and the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Maldives. The video for the song was shown on Television Maldives to raise environmental awareness among locals and the band gained national recognition. The trio then embarked on a musical journey of discovery and experimentation that would result in them being linked by a strong bond lasting to this day. In 1988, the band began to work on their first album, travelling across the Maldivian isles and living with local communities while immersing themselves in island culture. They recorded various soundbites that made up the natural rhythms of laid-back atoll lifestyles. These soundbites paid tribute to the traditional and cultural distinctiveness in local routines like the cadent clinging of oars on water and the swishing of winnowing rice. These were then interspliced into the band’s music resulting in an album that rang with early morning birdcalls, the thumping of coconut husks and the dancing of waves ashore. The very essence of Zero Degree Atoll’s inherent national charm lay in their encompassment of traditional poetry and archaic chants as well as the inclusion of the locally esteemed bodu beru – literally meaning big drum – in their songs. The attention garnered to the complex nuances of the mother tongue has led to the band being one of the most sought-after live acts on local terrain, as well a vastly popular act for visiting international audiences.

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