Robin Denselow of The Guardian,UK wrote in his 4 Stars review .. “Ten years ago, singer Mina Ripia and her partner Maaka McGregor set out to shake up the New Zealand music scene by mixing the melodies, rhythms and language of the Maori people with subtle western electronica. Their album “100%” was deservedly nominated for awards and now, a decade later, comes Wai’s second international release which expands on those original experiments. It has taken them years to complete and involves a variety of special guests, including Iain Gordon from their more boisterous compatriots Fat Freddy’s Drop, but the resulting songs are remarkably fresh and uncluttered. The opening Tuhia Te Ha, which is dedicated to “the late, great Charlie Gillett”, one of the band’s early champions, is an unaccompanied vocal harmony piece with lyrics praising the success of the Maori language, and has the gentle charm of church choral music. When the electronica does kick in, it is rarely allowed to dominate but instead follows the ebb and flow of the vocal lines on songs that range from the drifting trance-like Mei Kore Koe to the gently driving dance track Faifai Malie, which also makes use of Samoan languages and rhythms. It has been worth the wait”.
Seth Jordan of Songlines Magazine,UK wrote in his 5 Stars review… “McGregor’s imaginative production employs programmed beats and basslines that are thoroughly 21st century, but rooted in traditional poi rhythms that mimic breathing and heartbeat. Mina’s vocals are pristine and powerful, evoking the eloquent cadence of formal Maori oratory with flawless harmonising from several featured vocalists. Fat Freddy’s Drop keyboardist Iain Gordon adds extra synth layers on several tracks while ex-Drop saxman Warren (Little Bushman) Maxwell lends vocals on the gorgeous He Tapu Koe. The closing Faifai Malie melds Maori and Samoan lyrics, featuring the deep Pacific voice of Pati Umaga. While many musicians attempt to unite indigenous traditions with modern technologies, few succeed at it as well as Wai. Truly exceptional”
Nick Bollinger of NZ Listener wrote … “Wai roots run deep, yet their music is fiercely modern … Ripia’s vocals, a unique blend of melody, harmony and chant … capable of commanding any dance floor”.
David Hutcheon of Saturday Times,UK wrote in his 4 Stars review … “The Maori duo’s second album “Ora” combines classy harmonies with chilled electro. Although it slips down easily, there is more to it than an easy-listening experience”
Graham Reid of Elsewhere, NZ wrote … “If “100%” was the album which took Wai to the world then this is the one which should provide the tasteful, thoughtful soundtrack to the summer to come – and many more after that. A decade is a long time between albums. It has been well worth while the wait”
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