By Jake Ebdale
Released Friday July 17th, 2015 - Warner Music
Ahoribuzz, the Aaron Tokona-fronted funk outfit currently on a mammoth NZ tour entitled Nation Of The State, are one of NZ's best acts. It doesn't take long to figure out why - just give their Facebook page a follow for Tokona's daily musings on the entertainment industry and life in NZ (sprinkled with 'whacups' and 'hoons' for good measure).
Ahoribuzz have the admiration of many well-known musos from Tokona's forays in other bands - Cairo Knife Fight, Fly My Pretties, Fat Freddy's Drop, their prototypeBongmaster and the long looming shadow of his rock group Weta ('Calling On, 'Got the Ju') - and though the Buzz has been on the back-burner lately, this latest release will place them firmly where they belong - on top, baby.
Into the Sunshine, a double EP, cobbles together four previously-released singles and their respective remixes and live versions. Though this is slightly disappointing for fans who've already bought the singles on iTunes, if anything, Sunshine is a great preview of and companion to the live show - an outlet where Tokona and his new bandmates truly shine.
Tokona, an eccentric, perma-pouting, axe wielding character who is the first to point out his flaws (again, check out that Facebook page for the rundown on John Key, Kim Kardashian and general Maoridom in 2015) is in his finest form with the funk. Each song is vastly different - bear in mind, this is more of a collection than cohesive album from songs dating back years - but luckily, they're mostly excellent.
‘Glitter in the Gutter', the band's first single from 2011, is a 10-minute jam that is quick cousins with anything from FFD's Live at the Matterhorn. Having been described as the 'Maori Hendrix', rather than 'Foxy Lady', this is far closer to 'Mother's Son', his playing strikingly similar to Curtis Mayfield - less vampy and bluesy; rather, a tone that is earthy, raw and beautifully flawed.
Opener ‘Turnaround' is the clear standout here, a mammoth nine-minute ‘Superstition'-esque stomp that contends for best NZ funk single of all time; up there with Sola Rosa's 'Turnaround' and Kora's 'Skankenstein'. Laughton Kora and Hollie Smith feature on ‘Sugar', a stylistic hodgepodge of disco Mars Volta dramatics that wins on eccentricity alone. ‘Providence' is pure excitement via electronic funk, whilst the title track, though slightly cloying in its lyrical content (which reminds me of OMC's ‘Land of Plenty'; not a bad thing), is triumphant in its classic rock-soul arrangement that gets better with each listen.
Special mention goes to the acoustic versions of the title track, featuring Anika Moa and Anna Coddington, and Sugar - moments of sweetness that let Tokona's vocals shine.
All in all, this is a strong release with quality songs made to play loud on Saturday nights/Sunday mornings. Ahoribuzz, phase one - success. Now for those live shows to show 'em what you're really made of, Tokona.