Rob Thorne: Whaia Te Maramatanga - review

by Gary Steel / 03 March, 2014
Rob Thorne WHAIA TE MARAMATANGA

Hirini Melbourne and Richard Nunns’ 1994 album Te Ku Te Whe was a revelation. Re-animating traditional Maori instruments with an imagined musical vocabulary, the music felt as awe-inspiring as a rare untouched strand of ancient rain forest.

Art music label Rattle has flourished with an almost impossibly eclectic catalogue since that seminal release, but Rob Thorne revisits te taonga puoro here, with the occasional assistance of Nunns on purerehua, a kind of bullroarer. Composing for these instruments must be a challenge: they’re intrinsically limited, but also, as powerfully evocative as that other ancient First Nation instrument, the didgeridoo.

As you might expect, the result is haunting, hushed, and works a treat late at night, when the clamour of the day has diminished.

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