OceaniaFor years, I’ve been addicted to music from New Zealand’s royal family of pop music, the Finns (of Split Enz and Crowded House fame). Not so long ago, however, I saw a CNN piece on a new Kiwi project which not only sounded interesting, but drew heavily from New Zealand’s Maori heritage (another subject with which I’m fascinated). This new musical entry was called Oceania, and it took me forever to find a copy. But the search was well worth it (and now, as you can see from the ubiquitous purchase link on this page, it’s suddenly easy to find!).

Oceania is the brainchild of artist Hinewehi Mohi and producer Jaz Coleman. Combining modern-day grooves and production with indigenous acoustic instrumentation and lyrics sung entirely in Maori, Oceania comes across as something that might appeal to Enigma fans, though the sound is much more ambient. Coleman deftly blends acoustics and synths to create a wall of sound which manages to avoid sounding mismatched. Hinewehi’s vocals are clearly the star of the album, however: in many places ethereal and Julee-Cruise-esque, her singing is always enjoyable, even if you can’t follow the lyrics. (Don’t speak Maori? That’s okay – the lyric 4 out of 4booklet has complete translations.)

Even on the more heavily percussive numbers, such as “Pukaea (The Trumpet)”, the sound of Oceania is relaxing, textured, and primal. Highest recommendations.

Order this CD

  1. Pukaea (The Trumpet) (6:32)
  2. Kotahitanga (Union) (4:41)
  3. Hautoa (Warrior) (4:46)
  4. Hinerakatauri (Goddess of Music) (4:55)
  5. He Tangata (People) (5:37)
  6. Kihikihi (Cicada) (6:23)
  7. Haera Ra (Farewell) (5:35)
  8. Pepepe (The Moth) (6:17)
  9. Tino Rangatiratanga (Self-Determination) (6:11)
  10. Hautoa – Beatmasters 7″ mix (4:41)
  11. Kotahitanga – Beatmasters 7″ mix (3:28)

Released by: Point Music / Universal
Release date: 1999
Total running time: 59:08