Ivashkin, Barlow, Halliday: Pacific Voyage (Alma)

 |   |  1 min read

Ivashkin, Barlow, Halliday: I Jisu (with the Vunimono Village Choir, Fiji
Ivashkin, Barlow, Halliday: Pacific Voyage (Alma)

This probing, challenging and at times quite thrilling project by cellist Alexander Ivashkin -- with Ora Barlow and Kim Halliday of Pacific Curls) on various flutes, gourds, ukulele and other instruments -- is, in the words of Ivashkin, "an attempt to repeat Gauguin's voyage [to New Zealand] on a symbolic level".

The French Impressionist laid over in Auckland on his voyage around the Pacific so here we have music which evokes the ocean and spatial distance, Maori and Polynesian cultures, a sense of dark foreboding, and some (often lively) interpretations of Bach, Rimsky-Korsakov (that bumble bee is exceptionally busy) and Saint-Saens alongside a Fijian village choir and Isa Lei.

The 21 minute improvised opener sets the sonic scene (deep drums, eerie flute, scraping cello) and builds an engrossing momentum only to let it drift into an idyll which evokes days of languor under a Pacific sky. It is by turns deep and delightful, and speaks to a pre-colonial part of the spirit.

The use of traditional instruments is never gratuitous in this context (as it sometimes has been lately) but profoundly evocative and the cello adopts a fiddle-like sprightliness on occasion to conjure up the ship-board music of the day. But equally on the melancholy Moeteatea: Lament based on Russian folk and church songs and Benjamin Britten there is an aching and creaking quality as if the boards of the ship are groaning in sympathy with the emotional and spiritual disconnect the painter might be feeling.

The ukulele and vocals on Sisu Kohomau Hu Hui (with guest vocalist TuiMala Ma'afu) has it's gentle beauty deliberately undercut by the aching cello part.

This is not an easy project for the casual listener but there is great emotional depth here and by affording traditional Western and Pacific cultures the same performance space it speaks/sings with a musical multilingualism which is rare and precious.  

 

 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Kimbra: The Golden Echo (Warners)

Kimbra: The Golden Echo (Warners)

When Kimbra appeared at this year's Womad in Taranaki I observed at the time it allowed her to roadtest new material away from the prying eyes of the international -- and even local -- music media.... > Read more

The Golden Awesome: Autumn (M'Lady's)

The Golden Awesome: Autumn (M'Lady's)

Having been very impressed by the Amazing (although rather underwhelmed by Gold Medal Famous) I am a sucker for a band that doesn't under-sell itself on the naming front. Toad the Wet Sprocket... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Belfast, Northern Ireland: History by taxi

Belfast, Northern Ireland: History by taxi

Billy Scott is probably the most famous taxi driver in Belfast. He didn’t tell me this -- he was too busy telling me other things -- and I only found out later he’d appeared on... > Read more

BOB MARLEY; TALKIN' BLUES: The Rastaman chanting down Babylon in 1973

BOB MARLEY; TALKIN' BLUES: The Rastaman chanting down Babylon in 1973

Shortly after Bob Marley died in May ‘81 a journalist asked former-Wailer Peter Tosh what the passing of this charismatic reggae figure meant. Tosh considered the matter carefully, then... > Read more