Review | Songlines

Beats Vol 2

Rating: ★★★

View album and artist details

Album and Artist Details

Artist/band:

Te Vaka

Label:

Spirit of Play

December/2020

With over 20 years’ experience of recording and performing both traditional and contemporary Pacific music, Te Vaka have always been a slick outfit, presenting Polynesian culture in a somewhat commercially-oriented manner, but with immaculate precision and meticulous choreography. Founder Opetaia Foa’i has always encouraged his extended family to take part, and over the years his daughter Olivia has established her own Pacific-pop career. Meanwhile son Matatia Foa’i, who began his career at the age of six, has become the group’s master percussionist, and this is the second side project album to feature his own compositions and drumming.

With Papa Opetaia in the production chair, the beats come fast and furious, with Matatia’s powerfully precise rhythms leading the way on a combination of log drums, skin drums and various hand percussion embellishments. Spoken and shouted vocals, complete with well-timed whoops and guttural grunts, add appropriate emphasis to propel the pulsing percussive patterns ever forward. There are pan-Pacific rhythmic influences from Tuvalu, Tokelau, Samoa, the Cook Islands and Aotearoa (New Zealand). While the pace occasionally relents and the music even becomes subtle at times, it’s not often too long before the hard-hitting dynamics return with an added force and vigour.

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