Havili - Te Vaka

Warm Earth Records

Capping his introductory album notes to Havili, the 7th album from Polynesian fusionists, Te Vaka, patriarch Opetaia Foa’i writes, “I can honestly say that I feel like the goal has been reached, the canoe has arrived and my job is done.” Hmmm ... taken out of context, that quote does sound foreboding. I sincerely hope that this disc does not represent a swan song for a band that deserves so much more exposure. Foa’i and his fellow South Sea explorers have amassed an amazing songbook over the years, full of stirring lyrics about the delicate environment of Pacifica and the vanishing cultures of its peoples. And, Te Vaka isn’t content to preach to the choir, their sweet masterpieces of elegant pop are immediately accessible to fresh ears around the planet. The harmonies they have invented and perfected over time have the capacity to send shivers of joy through your body. Foa’i underpins them with acoustic guitar strokes of such tone and intricacy they reflect the singing strings of the Hawaiian slack key masters. The pate or log drum; the churning percussive waves over which Te Vaka’s melodies skim is now so interwoven into their compositions as to be seamless and sinuously alive. And, with the maturity of each passing album, Te Vaka continues to stretch out. Midway though ‘Lovely World’, a compelling showpiece on Havili, which actually belies the title by mourning the lack of common decency in the modern world and the noise of the big machine, electric guitarist Neil Forrest sets up a quiet storm of textured atmospheres over violin and cello. It’s one of many sublime moments on a disc that captures the Havili (blowing breeze) from a paradise hopefully never forgotten.