Halau O Kekuhi

Puka Kama 'Ehu: An Island Is Born

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A nice piece of traditional Hawaiian music, Puka Kama 'Ehu: An Island Is Born provides a sense of hula not heard in too many albums. The music is more traditional, less influenced by the tourism-fueled changes of the 20th century. The music is more primordial, closer to the deep chants and rituals from the days of Captain Cook. Halau O Kekuhi use some longer vocal forms with interlocking chants and held notes, but their bread and butter really appears to lie in the pounding chants and dances. Big thumping drums, stomping, and full choral call and response are the signature sounds of this form, and the Halau take care of business quite well. There are some poetic numbers here, as well as the standard songs surrounding rituals related to the birth of Pele. However, given the complete reliance on the Hawaiian language, it's the musicality that should be the focus for most listeners. It just so happens that the musicality is where the group excels. The album should be an easy choice for traditional hula fans, as well as fans of other South Pacific forms. For newcomers to Hawaiian music, this may not be as accessible as some slack key or modern hula, but it does make a nice introduction to some of the roots of the other sounds.

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