Moana & The Tribe: Wha
By Shaun Chait
It is somewhat of a travesty that New Zealanders almost exclusively know Moana through her chart dwelling but throwaway cover Black Pearl, and have largely ignored her music otherwise. While audiences in the US, Germany and Russia have been moved to tears by songs in a language they don't understand, Kiwis have either been thumbing their noses at perceived 'world music', or been suffering cultural cringe. With luck that reluctance will be overcome with this her fourth, and wholly Te Reo album, 'Wha'. This is a charming album, rich in musical landscapes of dub/reggae, classical instrumentation, traditional sounds (taonga puoro, haka, chants), electronic noises - a genuine melting pot of sound. Old world timeless traditions matched with modern melody, culture embracing the contemporary. I understood very little of the lyrical content, but Moana speaks just as fluently musically. Rangikane Ana and Titia are quite beautiful, Te Apo is challenging and confrontational, and the nods elsewhere to heritage and people are engaging. Six years since her last outing, Moana continues to grow. Produced by Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper and Moana herself, the album was recorded at Beaver Studios, mixed and mastered by Simon Holloway.