Ariana Tikao: From Dust to Light (Ode)

Ariana Tikao: Oxygenated
Ariana Tikao: From Dust to Light (Ode)

The much acclaimed Tikao presents a pleasant style which might be called te reo-folk as it has its roots in the Maori language and tikanga but is equally at home with the acoustic guitar folk tradition.

On this, her third album, the music is light, stripped back and simple, reverts to the customary reggae lope in a couple of places and . . .

And to these ears anyway, barely grips with songs which appear to have greater depth and meaning than they present. To get that dimension you need to read the liner notes about what prompted them. That is a failing.

Espresso for example -- a slight, jaunty piece with ambiguous lyrics -- is about her coffee addiction (doesn't sound like it) and a friend who took her own life in 2003 (again, that isn't evident unless a reference to tears is all that need be said).

In other places the lyrics don't seem to make much sense: "Like a fundamental truth I must go" on Oxygenated about lovely landscapes she has encountered. Do fundamental truths "go"? I would think the opposite.

There is no doubting her sincerity on songs like Te Heke, Something to Give and Let There Be Light (the latter dedicated to the people of Christchurch)  but despite interesting and discreet musical embellishments (taonga puoro, electronics, bird song, violin) and her pure vocals, these songs rarely rouse themselves from the same sensitive frequency and the melodies are constrained. The backings do all the work in making them discrete.

It is very nice and undeniably pleasant, unequivocally worthy and well intentioned, and often quite beautiful. But -- aside from Te Haeata, Ka Roimata and the whispery mood piece Purveyor of Light -- very little here is as moving as I think it was intended to be.

Like the sound of this? Then check out this.

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section

Porcupine Tree: Octane Twisted (Kscope/Southbound)

Porcupine Tree: Octane Twisted (Kscope/Southbound)

When considering the recent 35th anniversary reissue of the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks, it was salutory to look at what had changed since that politically and socially volatile era in... > Read more

Aaradhna: Treble and Reverb (Frequency)

Aaradhna: Treble and Reverb (Frequency)

Although critics and commentators will inevitably, and rightly, point out the influence of Amy Winehouse in a couple of place on this, Aaradhna's third album, that doesn't change the fact that this... > Read more

New Elsewhere

Hip Flask: Hip Flask2 (Rattle Jazz)

Hip Flask: Hip Flask2 (Rattle Jazz)

I suppose it was always thus: Every generation of jazz players would complain about the music of their successors, whether it be big band swing, bebop, Third Stream, free jazz, fusion . . .... > Read more

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: French for Rabbits

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: French for Rabbits

This is what we love to hear. We sent the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire to Brooke, John and Ben of French for Rabbits and when it came back Brooke had written in the e-mail: "It made made... > Read more