Intrepid Kiwi music-maker Mara TK cooks up a soulful, free-spirited two-track EP, Taniwhunk, with deeply magnetic results. Here is as authentic a listen as you are likely to get all year, experimental, challenging, enriching music without polished edge or tiresome brand-building edifice. Taniwhunk is 21st century Maori music - music with something to say...everything to say.
The Maori, New Zealand’s orginal inhabitants, have experienced centuries of upheaval following subsequent European settlement and their need for loud, insightful voice in today’s turbulent, over-developed world is greater than ever. Beautifully stark EP opener Run is a powerful Maori challenge to selfish, ruthless authority, its gentle exhale of percussion and guitar providing sheer lift to TK’s pure soul vocals on fighting fear, deception and cultural poverty. Acclaimed Detroit DJ-producer Moodymann adds electronic bite to a remix, meanwhile, punching jagged, metallic rhythms through a stirring haze of b-line organ, digital hum and sharp keys. The Maori are speaking with digital clarity.
Second Taniwhunk cut, Anyone Here?, ups the tempo and extends TK’s important dialogue with the listener. Here forceful drum and piano loops build into spirals of synth, shuffling cymbals and more sweet yet sweeping vocals, TK serving us personal, heartfelt thoughts on the displacement of community and its identity and, in turn, the corporate misuse of land which has killed off a truly sustainable, age –long way of life. A remix by London DJ-producer Simbad moves firmly into raw house territory - deep analogue bass spliced with phased ‘n’ filtered synths and seriously cuttin’ drums to mesmeric effect – but story remains key; how could it not?
Mara TK, one third of acclaimed, genre re-defining soul trio Electric Wire Hustle, hails from Canterbury, an area of New Zealand’s South Island holding huge historical significance for the Maori. Reconfigured over several centuries by Western capitalism, and ravaged in recent years by literally thousands of earthquakes, Canterbury promises little today for its original settlers. Where natural diasaster hasn’t struck, industry-scale dairy farming pollutes local rivers preventing the sustainable fishing upon which TK’s family, and people, once based their peaceful lives.
TK, then, is a self-confessed ‘Maori In Space’; a new age tribesman striking back with the technological tools at his disposal in these bewildering, highly advanced times, and some considerable talent, to express the Maori’s mana in high definition and with panoramic reach. Taniwhunk balances statement and style perfectly; art imitating and enhancing life….