Te Vaka: Amataga/The Beginning (Border)

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Te Vaka: Tike Te Galu
Te Vaka: Amataga/The Beginning (Border)

Now billed in small print as Opetaia's Te Vaka – after their leader, singer and songwriter Opetaia Foa'i – this expat pan-Pacific group with roots in Tuvalu, Samoa, Tokelau and the Cook Islands emerged here 20 years ago.

But for the past decade have been based in Australia while taking their gently hypnotic and often socially aware music to world music and cultural festivals around the globe.

This, their eighth album, once more offers appealing, exotic-sounding Pasifika music full of joyous shouts and lively percussion (Siva Mamalu/Majestic Dance) as they bring the warmth and concerns of Pacific peoples to their elevating, pop-framed and acoustic-based sound.

This engaging, effortlessly melodic music with messages of love for family and respect for the world we have been given (“Put back more than you take” on the title track) is hard to deny, and the lament for the missing on the Malaysian Airlines' flight (Tolu Fitu O/370) is heartfelt.

Although the support for the peoples of West Papua on Papua I Sisifo/West Papua comes off more a campaign slogan rather than a fully realised song in the comparison with others here.

Foa'i is however an astute producer: The rhythmic backdrop of Sasa Le Vao/Cut the Grass is a widescreen swishing sound evoking a scythe, and there are the interwoven rhythms of log drums on the terrific Tike Te Galu (which sounds ripe for an electronica remix).

And it all comes with chiming guitar parts which often have a gentle, oceanic surge about them.

As always with Te Vaka this is recommended, not just for the uniqueness of their cultural voice and the matters they address, but the classy and world class music which woes you into their world.

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