Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spun #7

Blasius To Una Turtavu
"Guitar Songs of Papua New Guinea"
Lyrichord Stereo LLST 7367

A few years back my ears were struck by lightning. Or at least, that's what it felt like the first time I heard the New Guinean string bands compiled on the third disc of Smithsonian Folkways' "Bosavi" box set. I didn't know that guitars and ukuleles and a few voices could sound so beautifully sublime and I couldn't tell whether I was being hypnotised or whether I was about to have a heart attack. Anyway, I knew that I needed to hear more string band music from Papua New Guinea.

So when I found this album (at the WFMU record fair, I think, where several of these posts have come from) I didn't think twice before grabbing my wallet. And although these songs lack the raw group sound and field-recording atmosphere of the Bosavi stuff, they are still delightful, especially when Blasius is joined by a second guitar and/or ukulele.

From the liner notes: "This record attempts to show the different faces of Blasius To Una Turtavu's creativity through the 28 years of his musical life. Humorous and satirical songs in Pidgin, like FOPELA LEK or KUNAI DUMDUM, ballads in his own Kuanua tongue like IAU ABUL RAMALMAL or AMARI NA RAVIAN and in English like LONELY EVENING. Blasius To Una might make you feel sad, but in the next song, he will cheer you up and really make you laugh. At fifty three, Blasius is still full of energy, and very much in love with music. Maybe that is what makes it very difficult not to fall in love with the man and his guitar."



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