Tutuki - Te Vaka
Warm Earth Records
Te Vaka means The Canoe in the language of Tokelau, a small chain of islands deep in the South Pacific. The band, Te Vaka takes their inspirational cues from their forefathers; explorers who traveled great distances by canoe. Their 11 members have come together from all over Polynesia including Tokelau, Tuvalu, Samoa, The Cook Islands and New Zealand offering what has been described as “a stereotype smashing glimpse into the true soul of the South Seas.Tutuki or 'The Beat' is their 4th album and it solidifies them as the top group in all of Pacifica. There's always been a child-like innocence in Te Vaka's sweet melodies, further enhanced on the new album with the addition of the voices of real children. This coming to the table with palms pointed upward makes singer/songwriter Opetaia Foa'i's pleas all the more poignant. He's tackled Polynesia's most pressing concerns from environmental damage to racism and loss of culture through encroachment. On Tutuki he points to the arrival of the 21st century's plague to the islands of paradise, AIDS. But don't get me wrong, this disc is not a downer. In fact, it's as bubbly as the sea foam on a sandy beach and as buoyant as the outriggers the band took their name from. It's nearly impossible to pick a favorite track. Start to finish it's quite simply one of the best records of the year.