‘Te Puaotanga o te Ao’ (‘The Dawn of a New Day’) is the debut album of Waiora, featuring taonga puoro performer Horomona Horo and Josh Rogers on guitar. (A possible third band member, percussionist Korey Atama, performs in their live iteration however he is not featured on this album.) Recorded, mixed and mastered by Mike Gibson of Munki Studio in Wellington ‘Te Puatanga o te Ao’ fuses traditional Māori and modern sounds into ambient compositions that reflect the natural world. The result is quite hypnotic and it’s fascinating to hear how two instruments (with occasional added voice) can produce such lush soundscapes.
Waiora’s aesthetic is a delicate and beautiful symbiosis between the Māori and European aspects of their music, which proves appealing to the ear. Although this is very gently-voiced there are surprising grooves to be found in the melding between classical guitar and taonga puoro. Occasionally Horo and Rogers also slip in sounds that are slightly unexpected (such as the almost Celtic flute lines in final track He Tangi Mo Ngā Rehe or the blues-funk guitar rhythms in Whanaki Wai), perhaps to make sure the listener is paying attention? I know these moments certainly made me perk up my ears. Given the rave reviews Waiora has been having in Europe I certainly hope we get to hear more of them and soon.