Various Artists

Music of the Fiji Islands

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This collection of traditional Fijian meke songs admirably concentrates on capturing raw performances, rather than glossing them over with slick production. So many "budget" world compilations strive to modernize the genre they are featuring, usually at the expense of authenticity. Arc forgoes this approach with their Music of the Fiji Islands collection and delivers an accurate, encyclopedic overview of this particular musical style. The instrumentation is generally primitive, consisting of lali (slit drums), derua (stamping tubes), clap sticks, and cobo (refined human handclapping), with the occasional ukulele and guitar thrown into the percussion-heavy arrangements. Voices play an integral role as well, ranging from soloists to full choirs, and the harmonies are surprisingly complex and sophisticated (given the primitive nature of these compositions). Overall, the music contained here is exuberant, joyful, and galloping, and despite being heavily drum-reliant, has a non-aggressive and amiable nature that should appeal to a wide range of tastes.

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