Maori Music Collection - Wai 100% - Apanui
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Various Artists
The Maori Music Collection

Wai 100%
Wai 100%

E Tau Nei
All titles on Jayrem Records, New Zealand

"It is death! It is death! It is life! It is life!" One can almost picture the native Maoris of old, with their fiercely tattooed faces, their tongues hanging from their mouths, beating their chests and slapping their legs, warning the opposing forces of what's to come. All the while chanting these haunting words in their native language.

cd cover This haka style is just one of many traditional threads that can be found running throughout The Maori Music Collection, WAI 100%'s self titled album and Ngahiwi Apanui's E Tau Nei. However, it is how these traditional methods of Maori music are utilized, ranging from straight traditional to contemporary to experimental, that makes all the difference in the world.

The Maori Music Collection is a mix of more traditional styles of Maori music, combined with what can be considered "contemporary" classics. The compilation flows back and forth between songs such as Ngahiwi Apanui's "He Whakapapa," in which there is steady chanting accompanied by a purerehua bull roarer and koauau flute, to Aotearoa's "Maranga Ake Ai," which is a more contemporary reggae flavored song dealing with Maori rights.

One of the constants throughout the compilation is the art of storytelling through song. The Maori people, like many other cultures around the globe, have a strong oral tradition; a tradition that can be found on almost all of the tracks of this CD. Where the more traditional sounding songs tell stories of famous lovers and young Maori men, going off to find themselves, the contemporary genre tracks speak examples of inequality and social injustice. David Grace's song "Pakaitore," sings of a Maori tribe who, in 1995, occupied the ancestral land that had been claimed by the town government.

cd cover The same man who sang two of the more traditional tracks on the Maori Music Collection, Ngahiwi Apanui, has released a more contemporary album entitled, E Tau Nei. Produced by the members of the group WAI 100%, Apanui's style on this CD combines the old with the new, as he takes traditional elements of Maori music and fuses it together with modern electronic beats and instrumentals, making for a subtly smooth collaboration. This collection of songs offers a unique opportunity to the listener. Rarely does one get a chance to hear the traditional poi help keep the beat amidst electronic rhythms, and hakas chanted over techno melodies. Apanui's innovative style helps bring the indigenous music of New Zealand to a new level of world fusion.

cd cover WAI 100%'s self-titled album takes that traditional contemporary fusion from Apanui's CD and brings it to new levels of funky experimentation through the use of non-standard instrumentation. Aside from the traditional percussion instrument, the poi, the rhythm stems from natural occurrences such as breathing, the human heartbeat, bird's wings and a variety of other everyday sounds.

The sounds are complimented by a series of vocal melodies performed in the Maori tongue, with themes running from giving praise to the almighty creators to breaking free from the shackles of smoking. The concept of using natural sounds as the rhythm works on its own. Often times, however, the addition of the chanting Maori oratory results in the melody slipping out of sync with the percussion. Sometimes the beats coincide with the vocals and other times they clash. Regardless, the combination of all of these factors, natural or otherwise, comes through as a worthwhile experiment. - Gerald M. Gay

All three CDs are available from cdRoots

Jayrem Records, PO Box 38-558, Wellington Mail Centre, Te Whanganui-a-tara, Aotearoa

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