Various Artists

Explorer Series: South Pacific - Island Music

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If you're looking for sweet singing, steel guitars, and the tourist trappings of the South Pacific, you'll need to look elsewhere. These 28 tracks are off the beaten track, but anyone keeping to the straight and narrow might find the results far more satisfying. Of particular interest are the songs and chants, like "Imenetuki," with some eerie, shifting harmonies from the Cook Islands, and the easy beauty of the Tongan "Faikava Love Song." The pan pipes of the Solomon Islands sound like no other, and "Pan Pipe Ensemble" has an almost modern European flavor to it, while the slightly dissonant harmonies of the female singers recall Bulgarian choirs. Over in the Gilbert Islands, the song "Te Kawawa" has an elastic quality, the single male voice sliding in microtones around the notes. A drum accompanies Samoan women as they sing a lullaby on "Tagi," the slow rhythm like a pulse beat. In other words, there's plenty going on here; it's an indigenous travelogue through the Pacific Islands. Beautifully recorded with stunning clarity, the reissue of this 1981 album is a delight.

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