Monday, October 10, 2016

Album Review: Various - Two Tongues (2016)

As published in the August/September edition of NZ Musician magazine

Things don't get much more regional and grassroots than this ... and the album was all the better for that. One of a kind:

This 16-track compilation album of music from Whanganui provides a snapshot of some of that region’s creative talent, as produced and curated by local AV production guru Sacha Keating of Te Aio Productions. Part funded by the Whanganui District Creative Communities Scheme and limited to a CD run of just 150 copies, it reflects Whanganui’s rich multi-culturalism, with a blend of styles and hybrid influences present across the album’s hour-long duration. There’s naturally a heavy emphasis on local history and Maoritanga – with both Rihi’s 'He Pai Noa' and MoKu Whanau’s 'Whanau Ora' sung entirely in Te Reo Maori – and also a strong roots reggae and hip hop presence throughout. With helpings of old fashioned funk and soulful harmonies from Keating’s own group RedBack Villain, and even some orthodox rock from Wicca Bees, some of this material starts to feel almost borderless. Sure, it’s a celebration of language and all things Whanganui first and foremost, but right at its core, the album’s wider themes of identity, empowerment, unity and whanau are wholly universal. It’s a positive message from a community that hasn’t had its problems to seek in recent years, and it comes packaged in some great – and suitably challenging – cover photography from local artist Tia Ranginui.

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