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When I think of Makana, I tend to think of the varied amount of experiences he has had. It has turned him into a unique person.
Matt Swalinkavich turned his hobby into a passion, and surrounded by esteemed kupuna who we were willing to teach him and help him open new musical doors, he sees things in a unique and different way.
As a composer, writer and entertainer, those unique insights has led him to doing sit-downs with one or two people to entertaining thousands in a single night half way across the world. He has ventured beyond the tourist spots in lands many of us will never see. Yet being of these islands, he has learned and taken many of the values we hold and journeys with his music spreading stories of our land and learning of other lands to bring them together in a musical and storytelling manner that is as much a part of his LIFE and it is his PASSION, HOBBY and PROFESSION.
Some of his releases in the past sing of injustice that he has seen and how he views that the world can and should be a better place. Although trained in slack key and hawaiian music, through his youth he has successfully experimented with all sorts of music and genre and makes it his own. In that special blend of the world comes a new instrumental album that is definitely about Hawaii. All of the influences are on display for your ears, but powerful enough is the music that it creates your own visions based on you personal pictures in your mind.
Of all of the releases Makana has put out, this is the most “film-friendly”. This could be the soundtrack of our place we call home. I could say he “experiments” with different types of genre throwing them all together; but its no experiment. He does this with deft and ease of presence. You could be flying over the island, or have your feet in the loʻi and this music would be about both. Whether in deep nature far into the Koʻolau mountains or the valleys of Molokaʻi; or on the side of a street in Kakaʻako. I hear it all there.
“Adventures of Oʻopu” - I can hear Disney. “Kaimuki Mornings”…Iʻm stretching as Iʻm getting out of bed with a smile. “Kahala Jazz” makes perfect sense. “Puʻuāleʻaleʻa” features DeShannon Higa with a trumpet making its presence felt with an awesome drum beat out of LA and an ukulele. I literally walked into the old “Arakawaʻs of Waipahu” in my mind. “Haiku Zen” was an interesting mix with Jeff Petersonʻs influence which you can plainly hear and Riley Lee adding shakuhachi is “chicken-skin”.
I donʻt know what Makana had in mind when he composed “Way Out West”, but I found myself standing on the beach at Mākua, with Aunty Carol and the rest of the Keale family behind me like I had done in times before with my friend Skylark Rossetti looking out into the waters just after midday as if Israel, Skippy and Uncle Moe would be there playing in the waves, then as the beat picks up, youʻre driving time-lapse headed towards town passing Waianae, Maili and Nanakuli along the way. "Waikiki 2050" makes you wonder what the tourist Mecca will be in just 30 short years from now. If we ever had a 007 of our Hawaii, "Swansong of the Vanguard" could very well be one of the songs inside of the movie. Not the theme, but while 007 flies on a plane and suddenly HNL comes into view (maybe the top of the Koʻolau and slowly pan downward till you see the airport) I can hear the song being played...and while I think 007 suddenly an ukulele comes out of nowhere and Iʻm mesmerized. Also could be a rooftop lowkey party in Los Angeles too for a movie....
I think you get the picture. I could go on with EVERY song and tell you the images that it creates in the mind. To me, THIS is an excellent album of instrumental music that is influenced by the world over. Or perhaps more so, this is a gift from Hawaii that should influence everyone the world over.