ITS ALREADY TOMORROW
One lockdown project I worked on in 2020 was It’s Already Tomorrow where I
contributed to Grayson Gilmour’s and Name UL’s pieces (playing taonga
puoro) and collaborated with James Euringer on Revenge of the Long White
Cloud (the link is James talking about the song). This came out on green vinyl
which I was pretty excited about! You can listen and buy the album here.
According to James: The Revenge of the Long White Cloud is a sci-fi
dystopian story about an ancient indigenous Polynesian supercomputer
becoming sentient and deciding to punish mankind for all its evils by
destroying the world. Looking around at the current state of affairs in the world
today I definitely feel any advanced A.I. would want to either control us to stop
us from our own evils, or destroy us to start over again anew. Any highly
logical machine or biomechanical organism seeing the complete illogical state
of the world would definitely try and re-program the earth from scratch, and at
this point that might be a good thing.
Grayson’s piece is Feather / Folded which also features Hayden Chisholm
This is what Grayson says about it: “Musing on Mother Nature's monumental
indifference towards mankind, despite the havoc we wreak on the planet. My
studio looks out over the hills of Te Kopahou reserve, and I find a great
sense of peace in witnessing this indifference while I work; Mother Nature
may very well reclaim these hills — perhaps sooner than we're willing to
Name UL’s piece is Lake Opal which also features Arjuna Oakes, and Sofia
Labropoulou. This is what Name UL says about the track: “When the world
went into lockdown and I realised I was locked New Zealand after spending
the last couple of years in the UK/EU, I started to write music in a way that
captured the feeling of needing to be free.”
Te Taki o Te Ua
One of Ariana‘s recent collaborations is with fellow Arts Laureate, choreographer and video artist Louise Potiki Bryant, and co-composer Paddy Free. Te Taki o te Ua / The Sound of Rain is a video installation weaving dance, waiata, taoka puoro, animation and video in a work addressing the impacts of climate change in the tribal area of Kāi Tahu, Te Waipounamu.
It is made up of three moving image works; Waikohu / Mist, Pakapaka / Drought and Awha / Storm.
Waikohu / Mist is an expression of the water cycle in balance and honours the emergence of freshwater as a consequence of the separation of Rakinui and Papatūānuku.
Pakapaka / Drought addresses the projected increased frequency and intensity of drought in some takiwā.
Āwhā / Storm tackles the projected increase in intensity and frequency of storms and flooding as a consequence of climate change.
Te Taki o te Ua / The Sound of Rain video installation and live performance was made with the support of Creative New Zealand and Track Zero – Arts Inspiring Climate Action. It premiered at the Wānaka Festival of Colour in April 2021, was shown at the Te Kōputu a te Whanga a Toi Exhibition Centre in Whakatāne, and also the 2021 Imaginative Film + Media Festival in Toronto.
Bird Like Men (Oro Records NZ) Release date 23 July 2021
I recently started a record label with my bandmates from my latest group Tararua which we have called Oro Records, after the concept of sound and vibration in te reo Māori. We decided that we had the combined skills to release our own music and we are keen to support other artists in the future.
We started creating the music at a jam session in December 2019. Most of us had worked together in different combinations over the past few years, so we thought it would be worth trying something together. We were really pleased at how fast and easy the music flowed, and were successful in getting Creative New Zealand funding to create a body of work over the past year. This music was recorded at the Surgery Studio by Lee Prebble in 2020.
Message from our Bandcamp site:
Oro Records is proud to present art music ensemble ‘Tararua’ and the release of their first album ‘Bird Like Men’ which brings together their southern influences with sound worlds from both te ao Māori and te ao Pākehā.
‘Tararua’ (meaning ‘two peaks’), connects whakapapa, from mountains in both North and South Islands, this contemporary New Zealand art music weaves the voices of Aoraki, the tūrakawaewae of Ruby Solly and Ariana Tikao, winding through Te Waipounamu-raised, Wellington based artist Al Fraser, and merging into Phil Boniface’s birthplace and connection with the Tararua ranges.
Their evocative music combines taonga pūoro, waiata, karakia and pūrākau (story) with a strong southern Māori influence, with the western instrumental elements of the cello and doublebass. The ensemble is made up of four established artists Al Fraser, Ariana Tikao, Ruby Solly and Phil Boniface; who are each leaders in their various fields.
The album draws upon a range of musical stylings including, jazz, folk, and traditional musics from the whakapapa of different band members. With kōrero in the form of lyrics and poetry from both Solly and Tikao, as well as from whānau manuscripts of Tikao, such as in their second single ‘Tūtūmaiao’. “I started singing the reo Māori lyrics, some of which came from an excerpt of an ancient waiata partially quoted in the book Tikao Talks, by my pōua Teone Taare Tikao. He talked about Tūtūmaiao being the name of an ancient battle in “one the Hawaikis””, said Tikao. Other lyrics woven into the klezmer-inspired groove are by Ruby Solly. “My lyrics are a tribute to kōrero from Kāi Tahu Whānui about how our people are like the tītī birds, migrating and travelling around the world, but always coming back to our spiritual homeland of Te Waipounamu,” said Solly. There is also a thematic connection to the southern Māori rock art of bird people at the Maerewhenua site in Otago, adding a deeper layer still to the music.
Nau Mai e kā Hua
Ariana Tikao and Al FRASER
Rattle Records describes this album as “An evocative sonic journey through the pristine waters of Te Wai Pounamu, Nau Mai e Kā Hua, is the first duo album by Ariana Tikao and Al Fraser, two leading players of ngā taonga puoro. The album features improvisations and spoken word, with waiata and the expressive voices of ngā taonga puoro interwoven like the strands of braided rivers”.
Al Fraser and I have been playing music together since 2008 when we first met and played a concert together in the Wellington Town Hall for a Pao Pao Pao gig. When I moved from Christchurch to Wellington in 2011 we met up again and have been playing music together in various settings ever since. This is our first duo album which was recorded at Al’s home studio as well as at Lee Prebble’s Surgery Studio in Wellington.
Review in Songlines UK ****:
Two of New Zealand’s most innovative contemporary musicians, singer-composer Ariana Tikao and multi-instrumentalist and producer Al Fraser have worked together on previous projects since 2008, but this is their first record as a duo. Both grew up in Te Waipounamu (New Zealand’s South Island), and are now Wellington-based.
Of Kāi Tahu descent, the main southern iwi (tribe), Tikao has been a prominent Māori performer for many years, with three fine solo albums and several collaborative projects to her credit. In addition to her vocals, she and Fraser are both recognised as leading proponents of ngā taonga puoro – that intriguing collection of traditional Māori instruments that have experienced a strong revival in recent years thanks to three academic researcher-players and instrument makers – Richard Nunns, Brian Flintoff and the late Hirini Melbourne – all mentors of Tikao and Fraser. Courtesy of archival recordings, Melbourne even makes a posthumous appearance on ‘Amokura’. Tikao’s vocals here, occasionally half-whispered, elsewhere beautifully bold, are immaculate throughout, with the translated Māori waiata (song) lyrics referencing blessings, grief, war cries, supernatural beings (patupaiarehe) and the environment. The duo’s wide variety of nature-oriented taonga puoro sounds, whether skilfully blown or percussive, provide evocative context and organic perspective.
Ariana Tikao and Karl Steven
My whānau comes from Horomaka/Banks Peninsula and so when the opportunity was offered to me to contribute to the soundtrack for the documentary ‘Fools and Dreamers: Regenerating a Native Forest’ about Hinewai, a nature reserve near Akaroa, I was absolutely keen. I recorded my taonga puoro and vocals at the music studio at Massey University in Wellington, and sent the tracks to Coromandel-based musician and producer Karl Steven. We were really pleased with the outcome of this collaboration of soothing, ambient tracks, and thought it would be awesome to share it more widely. So we offered the album as a fundraiser for Hinewai, and all the proceeds from album sales go directly to the Hinewai Reserve. For more information and to watch the movie go to happenfilms.com/fools-and-dreamers
Online review by Toyoyo:
As an urban kid, I can only envy the people who are one with nature, living by and growing alongside the great outdoors. The short film that this soundtrack was made for inspired me to do something, anything – to support the worthwhile cause of nature conservancy. That’s one reason I support and love this album.
The main reason, though, is that the music – lilting, inspiring, and uplifting – transforms and transports me to the forests that lie so far away from where I have made my home. Favorite track: Te Tipu, Te Rea.