BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Moana and the Tribe: Wha (Black Pearl/Ode)

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Moana and the Tribe: Te Apo
BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Moana and the Tribe: Wha (Black Pearl/Ode)

Across her previous three albums Moana Maniapoto confirmed her status as one of New Zealand's most significant voices whose sound could just as comfortably incorporate politics and culture as seduce with her flowing lyrics in te reo and her astute ear for using the traditional within a contemporary context.

This album might lack the obviously powerful and overt statements of material like Moko or Ancestors on previous outings -- and her more reflective side is generously served in some superb songs such as Rangikane ana commissioned for the first Moriori marae on the Chathams which comes with discreet strings alongside traditional flute.

But the centrepiece Te Apo is a sonic battlefield inspired by protests at the WTO in Hong Kong and brings karanga, haka, the sound of street protest and a thumping rhythm section with urgent and stabbing cello adding gravitas.

The counterpoint to that anger and energy is in material drawn from and inspired by the legacy of the Maori Battalion. And then there are the delicate love songs, the deft reggae riddums . . .

These days Moana and the Tribe are more often taking their music to an international audience (big in Russia, mate) but the soul and spirit which drives and determines the course of this music is always close to home and heart.

Another diverse, informed and quite moving album (Titia is in tribute to the late activist and leader Syd Jackson) by one of our finest.

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