on December 21, 2004
This outstanding collection of 11 songs by seven groups is required listening for anyone interested in the South Pacific music of today. These are not recordings of obscure tribal music taped in remote locations by ethnomusicologists. Rather, the best traditions of authentic island music have fused with contemporary pop and reggae to create some very catchy tunes. Four tracks are from the Pacific's most famous band, Te Vaka, and we're introduced to Matato'a from Easter Island, OK! Ryos and Gurejele from Mare Island in New Caledonia, and Telek from Papua New Guinea. The one song by the Maori singer Whirimako Black is almost New Age. All of the songs on this record are sung in the native languages, and Putumayo World Music has provided a 35-page booklet of notes introducing the groups and explaining the lyrics. Te Vaka laments westernization in Tokelau, Whirimako Black celebrates female Maori stone carvers, Gurejele condemns French colonialism, and Matato'a proclaims the mystic power of the Pacific - not what you would have guessed! One of the OK! Ryos selections is a music video you can watch on your computer. I've played South Pacific Islands a dozen times and have no problem giving it five stars.