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Polynesian Paradoxes: Tikahiri

May 28, 2009


Kahi (The Place): Tahiti, Te Ao Ma’ohi/French Polynesia

Think of music from Tahiti, and you’ll think of the gentle sway of the ‘aparima or the pulsing, multi-layered rhythms for an ‘ote’a. But the music of our cousins to the south goes beyond the melodies of the Heiva. Take an act like Tikahiri,fronted by brothers Aroma and Mano Salmon–who also run a tattoo shop in downtown Pape’ete. For this part of Polynesia, the band is rather unique. (We can’t  forget to mention, though, the ma’ohi rock band Manahune.) Live or on their studio album, Tamaki Hope`a, Tikahiri’s arrangements are deceptively simple (bass, guitar, drums, cello) but full of sound, emanating a complex, brooding personality one wouldn’t necessary expect from islands in the sun.


But look past the sunny surface of the Pacific archipelagos of Te Ao Ma’ohi/French Polynesia and you’ll discover another face. In an interview on the French network France O, Aroma says their music is a paradox, like life in the Tuamotus, the low-lying atolls northeast of Tahiti where they grew up. A storm can destroy eveything one day . Then the sun can return the next. This inherent contradiction gives Tikahiri’s music a darker–dare I say, gothic-edge, a adrenalin-rush unexpected from what’s basically an acoustic band. The name Tikahiri itself means “blood” or “life” in pa`umotu.  Add to this that the brothers sing in pa’umotu and English (they spent part of their childhood in Aotearoa/New Zealand), setting them apart from a scene mainly in Tahitian and French.  In any case, Tikahiri’s popularity is growing. The band performed at the Francopholies in La Rochelle in the summer of 2008 and just finished their first video this spring. (Check out the report in Les Nouvelles de Tahiti – In French)

Tikahiri performing “Heva Koe” on Fenua Live on TNTV

A special feature on Tikahiri from 9 semaines et 1 jour from France O (In French)
Closes with live performance of “Tape’a Te Pa’ari”

[Info/Photo Source: Les Nouvelles de Tahiti]

Tikahiri - Tamaki Hope'a

Tikahiri - Tamaki Hope'a

Tikahiri’s debut album Tamaki Hope’a is now available on iTunes. Tikahiri - Tamaki Hopea


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