After releasing two albums as a bilingual artist – a uniquely Kiwi style fusing his Māori and Pākehā background – Callum McDougal (who performs under the stage name Rei), has come out with this five-track EP entirely in Te Reo. ‘Rangatira’, broadly meaning ‘chief’, is a confident record – written, produced and performed by Rei, with assistance needed only for guitar, BVs and mastering.
The vocals are the heart of this record, standing out over smooth production and easygoing beats. With a softly strummed guitar and clicks used to keep the beat, Raparapa, in particular, has a near-choral quality, sounding as if it could have originated in a classroom or garage with a few mates.
The swirling, excited opening track Kia Tau asks the listener to chill out in a way that suggests one should act otherwise. This record is far from lacking in energy.
The electronic influence comes out in each track, some sounds prominent, others subdued, with the delivery and flow of the lyrics allowed to take centre stage. E Kī, with its vocals in the background and foreground, is a highlight of the record with nimble and controlled drumming and a hook that stays with you.
All five tracks hover around the three and a half minute mark, meaning this EP is all over in under 20 minutes. Fresh and radio-ready, ‘Rangatira’ is a re-playable collection of songs showcasing Te Reo Maori, and an artist clearly assured in their own sound.