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Marewrew - Ukouk. Round Singing Voices of the Ainu 2012-2024 LP



Marewrew (pronounced: Ma-leoo-leoo / mɑleːul̯ eːu)̯ is a female vocal group that sings traditional Ainu songs. The music of the long-suppressed people from northern Japan has been a particular focus of Pingipung's output in recent years, together with Oki Kano who recorded and produced many Ainu artists. Following various re-releases by Umeko Ando, the late grande dame of traditional Ainu music, the spotlight is now on the a cappella music of Marewrew, which by the way means "butterfly" in Ainu. Attentive listeners will recognize the voices, as some of the band have already performed as backing singers on recordings by Umeko Ando. Their a cappella versions of traditional Ainu music shed a whole new light on the fascinating songs that have been passed down through generations exclusively through song. Many of the songs are set as tightly interwoven canons: one starts, the others join in, but slightly out of phase. The short songs sometimes unfold into a wondrous trance that seems to spin round and round -- if singing can actually dance, then this is how. Nature sounds and woodpeckers can be heard, and there is a funny miniature in which the ladies imitate birdsong. Things get hypnotic with an evocative song about stranded whales or an ode to the Orca as "Little Sea God." The album culminates in unexpected pop or cumbia moments with a band line-up including percussions and Oki Kano on the famous Tonkori harp. Marewrew are Rekpo, Hisae, and Mayunkiki. Rim-Rim was a member of the group until 2022. Ukouk is a selection of Marewrew's work compiled from CD releases by Pingipung's Andi Otto. Oki Kano has contributed unreleased material and added new versions of the songs which had only been released in Japan. The album has been remastered by Kassian Troyer and is now available on LP for the first time.

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