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Aro - Album Review: Manu

29 Nov 2018 // A review by Corinne Rutherford

Aro; the husband and wife team made up of Charles and Emily Looker, will be releasing their debut album titled Manu (bird) in February 2019. This ten-track album is a bilingual Te Reo Maori and English native bird inspired project. It is, in short, delightful.

Having met Charles and Emily and seen Aro play live, when I listened to this album my first thought was this is the perfect fit for them. Combining Charles (Ngapuhi) first learnt language of Te Reo with English, this album captures the fun and cheeky essence of the couple whilst also telling stories inspired by native bird song.

It all started with the song of a Tui and evolved into a magical album of storytelling inspired by nature.

The captivating and hauntingly beautiful sound of taonga puoro played by Shane Mclean can be heard weaving its magical sound throughout the album. The duo effortlessly moves between Te Reo and the English languages creating a fresh sound “through songs that are memorable with words that are encouraging and fun to sing”. This is a sound which should appeal to the target audience of a younger crowd “this uniquely ‘Kiwi’ album can help young people feel proud of who they are”.

These are catchy songs which incorporate the personality of each bird. Each one of the birds which are featured on this album is distinctive to New Zealand. The melodies and rhythms of these native birds can be heard clearly coming through in each track. The couple’s voices complementing one another, creating layers of vocal harmonies on top of each other. “Engaging narrative and vivacious lyrics “The essence of the native birds of Aotearoa has been captured in the narrative of each song through vocal hooks, Maori rhythms, chants and expressive instrumentation”.

As I type this there is a Tui singing to me from the tree outside. Possibly one of the most beautiful sounds you can hope to hear.

Also, as I am in the process of collating my thoughts about Manu, I came across Aro's interview by Lora (also of Muzic.net.nz). I loved what Charles had to say in the very last line “Making this album has been like making a waka that you don’t know what it could do until you put it out to sea”

This is lively and cheerful yet at the same time inspiring and engaging. I was completely captivated by the stories told through the birds and I very much look forward to seeing Aro perform this album live.

This is currently my go-to album to take a break from the world and let the music wash over me. I heard the love which went into making Manu, filter through the music.

Aro suits this couple perfectly ‘Aro mai, Aro atu, Aroha’ To face, to be faced, to love.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Aro

Aro consists of husband and wife Charles (Ngapuhi, Te Rarawa, Ngati Te Ata, Te Ati Awa) and Emily Looker (nee Rice). The pair share a passion for the power of language and music to tell stories and remind us of our cultural identity. The duo were finalists for the Maioha Award at the Silver Scrolls (2019) and the APRA Best Children’s Song Award for their song Korimako (2020).




Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Aro

Releases

He Rakau, He Ngarara
Year: 2024
Type: Album
He Wai
Year: 2021
Type: EP
He Manu Ano
Year: 2020
Type: EP
Manu
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Van Jams
Year: 2018
Type: EP
Aro
Year: 2017
Type: EP

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