Music Review: “Asha,” AO Music

The world music group AO Music is back with another superb album of high-energy sounds and enlightening vocals. The group’s name – AO – means pure light or all colors in ancient Polynesian, and “light” and “colors” are good words to describe this music.

As always, the incomparable Miriam Stockley leads the vocals on nearly every track. AO co-producer Richard Gannaway contributes to several songs, along with the voices of children’s choirs from around the world.

In a bit of a departure from their recent albums, many of the songs on Asha are in English – like “Love Knows the Way,” “The Wildest Dream,” “Where in the New World,” and others. AO has liberally used vocalese for many of their songs in the past (vocalese: made-up phonetics, open to personal interpretation, that fit the rhythm of the music). While there are still vocalese lyrics to be heard on this album, many of the songs are in English, Zulu, Polynesian, Scottish Gaelic, or a blend of languages. Continue reading

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Music Review: “Hokulea,” AOMusic

Hokulea is the latest album by the world music fusion group AOMusic. “World music” is truly the best term—sounds from India, Ireland, North Carolina, and every place in between are heard on this album. Happy, energetic, full of color and imagination—these are some of the words I could use to describe the theme of Hokulea.

South African-born Miriam Stockley leads the vocals on almost every track, accompanied by children’s choirs from several nations. Miriam is most well-known for her work with Adiemus in the 1990s, and also has many collaborations and solo albums to her name.

Her voice is at once both youthful and mature. Shouting African singing, the floating waves of New Age ambience, the happy rhythms of children’s games—Miriam Stockley can sing it all. She could carry this album all by herself, but the choirs of Ireland and Nepal and America only add to the sound, like adding delicious layers onto a cake.

Like the sounds of the music, AO’s lyrics are timeless and come from all over the world. Hindi, Japanese, and Swahili words are sprinkled throughout their songs. The title song “Hokulea” means “Star of Gladness” in Polynesian.

“Irie Grá Medley” dances the listener through the jigs and reels of Ireland. “Yaka Matai” shouts praise songs from the Xhosa of southern Africa. And every song sings of joy and life.

Altogether, Hokulea is a celebration of sound that you don’t want to miss!

AO Music on YouTube

AO Music’s website

Miriam Stockley’s website

 

“Kuimba”