O-Shen's earthy sounds, rhythms powerful mix
By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
By Wayne Harada
O-Shen explodes with a powerful new CD that taps primal rhythms and dialects of Papua New Guinea. While you may need to be a linguist to fully understand the various tongues, it's easy to flow with the syncopated reggae, dancehall and hip-hop tempos.
Meanwhile, masters of steel guitar — then and now — provide historical perspective and genuine artistry in a new compilation.
"FAYA!" BY O-SHEN; SHARPNOTE RECORDS
Add Hawaiian, since "Children of the World" is a Hawaiian song in a new dress. O-Shen's dialects are fascinating, complemented by the pulse of modernity; or are these primal beats rooted in South Seas history, only now emerging through O-Shen's artistry? Tunes such as "For You" sound more traditional, because of the English; but others, like "Geio Geio" and "Tiko" boast rhythms and structures that set the toe tapping, but are without valuable liner translations. "Move" has Hawaiian snippets via brief phrases like "aloha kakou." "Ektin Fensi" and "Tiko" are dancehall-oriented, with a form parallel to Samoan or Tahitian, though it may take a learned linguist to explain what's sung here. Despite such barriers, O-Shen's assured, natural delivery is powerful.
"Legends of the Hawaiian Steel Guitar" by various artists; HanaOla Records
With vintage steel instruments depicted on the CD cover, the disc explores several generations of players, with historic entries by such deceased artists as Jerry Byrd, Barney Isaacs, Tau Moe, Jules Ah See, M.K. Moke and David Burrows, and current folks such as Alan Akaka, Ken Emerson, Bobby Ingano, Greg Sardinha, Casey Olsen, Duke Ching and Henry Allen.
With brief bio capsules, the disc is a quickie intro to the Hawaiian steel tradition.
Especially atmospheric: cuts such as "Aloha Oe Blues" (by Burrows) with a monophonic texture denoting its vintage.
Reach Wayne Harada at firstname.lastname@example.org.