Oceania

Oceania

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Oceania is what happens when Maori culture -- the music and traditions of New Zealand's native people -- collides with the modern world. The result is an interesting spiritual palette of new sonic possibilities that combine ancient chants, spacy symphonics, and soaring chants in the native language (translated to English in the notes). At the heart of this group are Maori instruments, legends, history, and language, presented to the world for the first time by poet and singer Hinewehi Mohi and the late singer of British post-punk band Killing Joke, Jaz Coleman. Mohi's mother is New Zealand/European, but it is from her Maori father that she acquired her sense of cultural identity, which she conveys here on 11 mostly lilting tracks, with spiritual and exotic electronic elements. The English titles give a universal sense to the new age vibe of the album: "Union," "People," "Goddess of Music," and "Self Determination." It's a pleasant, relaxing listen, but only for people who really want to explore the culture of New Zealand. The rest of us might just use it as background music.

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