Oceania – Oceania II

Oceania - Oceania IIThe long-awaited follow-up to 1999’s stellar self-titled album sees Oceania – vocalist Hinewehi Mohi, Killing Joke alumnus Jaz Coleman, and an assortment of other players – staying on course, mixing native Maori instrumentation and poetry with modern musical styles. And if the fact that I can’t seem to stop listening to it is any reliable indicator, this second album is even more compelling than the first.

Oceania II features wistful, emotional numbers such as Hawaiki, Niniwa and Kurupana, and hypnotically ethereal club tunes such as Rongo and Tauararai (the latter two of which are possibly my two favorite songs on the whole album). There’s a rather experimental number, Akonga, in which Hinewehi Mohi trades off verses with a recording of her great uncle which dates back over 30 years. Some of the shorter tracks are instrumental interludes with more traditional instruments; many of the full-length songs, however, have a decidedly modern feel to them.

4 out of 4As mentioned before, Tauararai and Rongo are highlights of the album, along with the soaring coda “Mana”. Unlike the first album, there’s no booklet of helpful Maori-to-English translations; you’re on your own in interpreting the lyrics. If you don’t speak a word of Maori, you’re still in for a treat – you can focus fully on the gorgeous vocals and the relaxing feel of the whole thing. Very, very highly recommended.

Order this CD

  1. Koauau Pongaihu & Ku (0:40)
  2. Hawaiki (4:40)
  3. Akonga (5:36)
  4. Kurupana (4:14)
  5. Nguru (0:56)
  6. Tuhira (4:22)
  7. Niniwa (4:40)
  8. Taurarai (6:26)
  9. Hue Puruhau (0:42)
  10. Rongo (3:44)
  11. Pukaea (0:20)
  12. Haka (1:51)
  13. Pukaea (0:24)
  14. Mana (4:55)
  15. Koauau Pongaihu & Ku (1:43)

Released by: Toi Iho
Release date: 2002
Total running time: 45:13

Oceania

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