Apanui: Matariki (Frequency)

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Apanui: Ko Ko/Call Call
Apanui: Matariki (Frequency)

Ngahiwi Apanui, formerly of the seminal reggae band Aotearoa, was in the vanguard of the use of taonga puoro (traditional instruments) with his autobiographical solo album Te hono ke te Kainga/The Link with the Homeland in '89 which also brought in reggae and folk.

A staunch advocate of te reo and cultural pride, he opens this album with an electro-thump call for everyone to support the revitalisation of the language, lopes into a reggae-driven and timely celebration of Matariki (many could do with a new year about now) and thereafter weaves originals and familiar melodies (including a Pacific-reggae Pokarekare Ana) into a tapestry of contemporary and traditional songs about family and the broader culture.

Sometimes this is spare and moving (Te Marama which is just his chant-like voice over percussion, and Tena ra te Ara about the genealogy of his youngest daughter) and at others the songs are embellished with a full band (his spring-heeled rhythm and electric guitar interpretation of the Te Marama story).

Not the strongest of singers, Apanui still conveys deep emotion – especially on the short solo tracks and Ko Ko, which is a tribute to the resilience of Maori.

The moving ballad Tukua/Surrender (about the needless loss of young men on East Coast over the years) and the tribute to his mother are the standouts.

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