Click to enlargeTahitian Choir

At their best, field recordings document rare and unheard music from obscure corners of the globe where people have maintained centuries-old traditions. This is the case with Rapa Iti. Here we get the multi-layered quarter-tone singing of the Tahitian Choir, which, at 126 members, counted one-third of the island of Rapa as members. Now reissued with one new song, these traditionals, which were recorded in 1991, are so old that they can't even be translated because the island's ancient language is largely forgotten. Themes include the creation of the island, the afterlife, and the sun. To the untrained ear, the choir has the same otherworldly sound as Bulgarian and African choirs. Yet this stands out--there are strange shifts of the singers' pitch on some songs that give the impression that the CD has slowed down and then sped up, which is not the case. Wholly unique, Rapa Iti is a fascinating listen that is as exotic as the locale it was recorded in. --Tad Hendrickson

1. Iaorana   9. Te Matamua
2. Oparo E Oparo E   10. I Te Fenua
3. Morotiri Nei   11. Tamaki a Te Mau Ariki
4. Himene Tatou   12. Oparo
5. Tarema   13. Tevaitau
6. Ei Reka   14. Va Hiti
7. Ratou Ki Ota   15. Tau Matamua
8. Te Vahine Ororagni   16. Te Parau O Eri Rama

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