Aro: Manu (Aro)

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Miromiro
Aro: Manu (Aro)
The premise here may sound a bit twee – 10 songs about New Zealand native birds, at some remove from Dudley Benson's art music we would add – which were written by Aro (Charles and Emily Looker) while they were traveling the country in their mobile home.

Sound a bit close to the ever-favourite Kiwi acoustic strum on a beach in summer?

And yes, there are some songs are bit like that. In a couple of places you feel this is maybe aimed more at pre-teens than adults (Kaka, the catchy acoustic strum of Riroriro which sounds ripe for a beach in summer) and the link with the birds sometimes seems very tenuous: the soulful r'n'b Kakariki, the affirmation of Weka which says “I learn from doing and if I fail the first time I'll try again”

But . . .

Frequently enough there's something very appealing going on here, notably in the songs in te reo Maori like the opener Korimako which bounces along on a Caribbean vibe with a little African guitar in the mix. It's a smart opener because it immediately undercuts expectation of something like Jack Johnson's inoffensive vibe with a local twist about birds.

In fact the musicianship through out – haunting and interlocking vocals, stick percussion, evocations of taonga puoro, touches of Latin rhythms – is clever and diverse, and there's a bit of humour scattered about: the slightly woozy Kereru which about them getting drunk on berries.

Piwaiwaka is a beautiful acoustic waiata with a lovely run-out passage at the end, Miromiro (“hold onto love”) is an ear-catcher and the metaphors show a keen intelligence at work behind these.

So although native birds have provided the genesis of this album the lyrics depart into relationships and such, and the music reaches wide into some interesting and diverse areas.

Quite uplifting and different.


ARO, MANU TOUR

Feb 24th| Bunker Unplugged | Auckland

March 1st| D’vine Oasis Community | Russell

March 2nd| Whangarei Quarry Gardens |

Whangarei

March 3rd| Song Conversations | Mangawhai

March 9th| Pompallier Diocesan Centre | Auckland

March 22nd| Luke’s Kitchen | Kuaotunu

March 24th| Eggsentric | Cooks Beach

March 29th| The Refinery | Paeroa

March 30th| Jam Factory | Tauranga

April 5th| Common Room | Hastings

April 6th| Joseph St Kitchen | Palmerston North

April 7th | Raumati Social Club | Raumati South

April 11th| Le Cafe | Picton

April 14th| Fairfield House | Nelson

April 18th| Barrytown Hall | Barrytown

April 20th| Cork Bar | Wanaka

April 21st| Sherwood | Queenstown

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