Last Voices from Heaven – Siva Pacifica

“The most dangerous journey ever undertaken in the search for indigenous music,” according to National Geographic. Anthony Copping travels to some of the remotest corners of the earth, records music rarely heard more than 10 miles from where it is made and then puts out an album that hides it all away under a blanket of studio slickness.


The idea for this madcap adventure — to find the exclusive sounds of distant pacific islands — really appealed to me despite the questionable logic of it all or maybe because of the danger involved. Anthony Copping and crew go up against Cyclone Berry, guns, machetes and some very suspicious people.
British ex-pat, Anthony Copping took all the music recorded back to his studio in Sydney and instead of curating an album of this painfully obscure music, he layers western instrumentation and beats over melodic borrowings and vocal snatches from his travels. The results are slick, professional and even quite catchy as on Shadow of Life.
The problem for me is that I really want to hear these sacred and mystical songs as they are and without all the extra stuff added. At times the music tends towards ambient folk fusion, an inoffensive blend best suited for advertising global products that don’t want to appear too sinister.
Others will love this unusual recording but my boat remains unfloated.
Buy from Amazon UK
Buy from Stern’s Music
This record seems to have been discontinued on the US Amazon store but should be available from the above links

34 thoughts on “Last Voices from Heaven – Siva Pacifica

  1. To Damian Rafferty
    I think it is an amazing album, really melodic and unique in the sense it was not samples over beats but real performances. I have lived in PNG and there is nothing being done from this area so I appreciate that someone is doing it. So just listen to it again.
    I also read in another article there is to be an album coming out with the raw recordings. But who will buy that apart from maybe you, or I suppose you will get it free to review.
    I loved it.

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  2. Fair enough. I wasn’t aware that the original recordings were being released and if they are to be released that would certainly reduce my disappointment at not being able to hear the original ‘last voices from heaven’.
    Perhaps, they should have done the release as a double album with both Anthony’s treatments and the originals side by side?
    As I said in the review, this is not a bad album, it just builds one level of expectation with the name and the press release and then delivers something quite different.
    Perhaps no one will buy the original recordings but then again who could have predicted that a group of old geezers in Havana would sell milions of copies of old-time Son?

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  3. For Anthony Copping and Pascale:
    Thanks for unmeasurable recopilation of heaven music…. a gift for our souls and spirits
    Antonio and Alejandra
    Chile

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  4. I am really interested in buy this CD. We don¥t have this production in Venezuela… øwhat can I do to get it?… I’ve seen the program on Tv and it¥s awesome. If exist a gate between human being and the Spirits… this is the music.
    Great job!!!

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  5. Hi
    You can actually visit the site http://www.sivapacifica.com and order the CD.
    The guy who reviewed this album did not see the film and does not realise how little music remains.
    To rebuild and put the effort into trying to capture what is being eroded in the World, a purity of melody is really heart warming.
    The trouble with these “cool” reviewers is that they are so rapped in what’s in (Cuban music) which happens to be very popular before Vista happened, he completely forgets to realise there are communities and music we just have never heard.
    How can he review something without ever opening up his mind that it could be something new!
    Look past the production,
    Terry

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  6. It’s not really a question of ‘coolness’, it is one of judgement and opinion. In my review I take account of the wide range of opinions and reactions that such a recording could produce — unlike some of the comments here — and I am happy to concede these opinions are just as valid as my own.
    So the more interesting question arises, on what grounds can someone write about another person’s music? As someone who has been reviewing records for over a decade, it is something I have spent a lot of time considering.
    What is clear to me is that it is not the job of a journalist to praise everything that comes his/her way. To do so would make any favourable review meaningless and ultimately remove the point of reviewing in the first place.
    So, for my own sake, I have devised three sets of criteria I assess everything by.
    The first is the most objective: can the musicians play? This is about technical competence in regards to performance and composition. In this respect, the above record is praised.
    The second is more subjective and it comes down to this question, do the musicans ‘feel’ the music they are playing. The music does not have to be ‘authentic’ in any sense but –especially when playing music from outside of your own culture — it is usually pretty obvious whether the musician has a profound sense of connection with the music they are playing. For the above record, I am unconvinced that the one-sided nature of the recording is much more than an impressionistic rendering of cultures and music appreciated but not necessarily deeply felt or profoundly engaged with. On the other hand, I could be wrong and hopefully I have expressed some ambivalence in this regard.
    Finally, and this one is totally subjective, do I the reviewer ‘feel’ it? I make no apology for having an opinion and stating it as such. It should be fairly apparent that the parts that are personally expressed attempt nothing more than a statement of personal reaction to the music. I can no more react to this record with wonder and joy than other people can fail to be moved.
    Vive la difference!

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  7. Hi
    I am just a music lover, and just annoyed with the way reviews always seem to be biased towards personal feelings. I am just frustrated by a film that oved me and my family and a website I visit which is in my eyes are wrong.
    At the end of the day, fair enough you do not get a feeling about this record, and as you run the show and you are a reviewer its OK for you to say this.
    But you have to balance this with facts, you have not seen the film , which would give you a background to the recording, you also fail to mention this in any part of your review! This is incompetent and would be like someone reviewing Bueno Visata Social club without seeing the film.
    Also how can you evaluate authenticity by not watching the film? You have the ability and to some degree the responsibility to advise people on the whole story.
    But for me the biggest act of incompetence is your inability to mention the absolute lack of recordings from this region, which cover real traditional music, which would give the reader the insight to realise this is almost the only record from the region. Surely in this light the record must be seen as brave and vitally important to the people of the region.
    By the way
    There is nothing different about being incompetent.
    T

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  8. In the UK, where I am, it is not easy to see the programme and to be honest, I don’t think it is essential as the vast majority of recordings come without a programme to back them up and are judged on that basis.
    In fact, I think it would be incompetent to refuse to review something because the programme was not available!
    If you would like to explore the music of this region further, I would recommend the excellent recent Putumayo compilation of South Pacific Islands music http://www.putumayo.com/catalog/item.php?item_number=231-2

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  9. Damian
    I am an Islander, the record you recommended is not excellent, have you heard it?
    Surely you have to accept some people are passionate about this film and record, and as you have Journo freedom to express your views, your readers by offering a comments page should be able to express them to you.
    Nagara

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  10. Hi
    I just think songs like “Lullaby of the Dead” are really amazing, and Pascals voice is unique, I really love it.
    Siva Pacifica is something that really affects me, even if not the editor,
    I found the website http://www.sivapacifica.com for anyone who is interested
    Nagara

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  11. I sometimes think that people don’t always read reviews properly before they get upset. It is a critique, and not everyone can appreciate everything they hear, but also it is stated in the review that ‘others will love this unusual recording…’, an objective, open comment, accepting that others may feel differently (in other words, not ‘biased towards personal feelings’ or being remotely damning.) Also, it is a widely held belief that all press is valuable, even if a review is not favourable, it’s important that this kind of music is being talked about. It’s true when they say that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about… 😉

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  12. Hola soy de MÈxico y me interesa comprar el disco pero no lo encuentro en ningôn lado si ustedes me pueden dar informaciÛn acerca de donde puedo comprar el disco de ìsiva pacificaî en MÈxico se los agradecerÈ mucho ya que esa es la recopilaciÛn de las ultimas voces de nuestro mundo y me gustarÌa tenerlas en mi hogar, me despido con un caluroso saludo desde MÈxico y esperando pronta respuesta su amigo Luis.

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  13. “The second is more subjective and it comes down to this question, do the musicans ‘feel’ the music they are playing. The music does not have to be ‘authentic’ in any sense but –especially when playing music from outside of your own culture — it is usually pretty obvious whether the musician has a profound sense of connection with the music they are playing. For the above record, I am unconvinced that the one-sided nature of the recording is much more than an impressionistic rendering of cultures and music appreciated but not necessarily deeply felt or profoundly engaged with.”
    Regarding the above, I am assuming by ‘musician’ you are referring to the group of artists who worked and in some cases lived with the islanders, rather than the islanders themselves. Not having seen the film, my views come from the liner notes and photos, but surely such close contact and respect for the cultures recorded implies “a profound sense of connection with the music they are playing”. Or is it your opinion that they put some beats over a few sacred songs so the album would sell?
    It seems to me that one of the main directives of these musicians was to compliment and harmonise with the raw material, to transcend it so that it could be more completely expressed across cultures – in which case a deep understanding for, and a strong connection with, the original material and those who sang it was absolutely necessary.
    It seems logical to me. I don’t have a decade reviewing music to stand behind me. Just a lifetime of listening.
    Cheers, Alli

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  14. PS Just found this interview on line from The Age, Melbourne, Sept. 9 2004
    “Copping believes there’s no clear-cut resolution to the contradictions between the demands of the commercial marketplace and “purist” anthropology.
    “You can self-destruct on this issue. I fall back on a very clear principle. What has serious anthropological music done for this region in the ’60s and ’70s? What’s it done for Pacific people, for the future and survival of their music and their youth culture? Nothing.”
    I think this article http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/09/07/1094530604573.html?oneclick=true addresses the difficulties that the reviewer found with this CD.
    Cheers, Alli

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  15. me gusto mucho el documental en el cual Anyhony Copping grababa estas musicas .Me gustaria saber si en Argentina conseguire este albun titulado “LAS ULTIMAS VOCES DEL PARAISO” desde ya muchas gracias por darme esta oportunidad de comunicarme con ustedes.

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  16. Hello everybody
    happy to met that compilation
    it’s more than amazing
    a whole process in its maximum point of creativity
    clever Mr. Copping!
    i really hope you’re never stop from saving sounds like these!!!
    and i want the album!!
    may it come at Chile?

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  17. After watching documentary on National Geographic, felt a strong need to have a copy of the CD. My husband thought I was crazy and that I would be disappointed. Somehow I knew intuitively that this was for real and went ahead and ordered one.
    My comments are simple. The CD arrived within a few days to me here in Taiwan. We played it. The effect was powerful. It touched my soul and within minutes moved me to blissful tears.
    The serene pulsating effect was so different it elevated my soul, hypnotically refined with a compelling need to keep on listening.
    I have only one thing to say.
    “Are there any more CD’s?
    Pasqual I love your voice!”

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  18. For those who want to buy theCD and want to know more about Anthony Copping here goes the link:
    http://www.sivapacifica.com/
    I Just fell in love with the music. i watched the Documentary on NGC long time ago. My brother got luckier, I am based in Chandigarh and he’s based in Sydney. I just asked him to visit Anthony and thank him as much as possible. It’s good to show..
    What is good is good,…you gotta put subjectivity aside for a moment, listen to the Music, let it come to you.

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  19. I have heard the song Ma’a Mera although I haven’t bought the album yet. What language is Pascale singing in?
    I must get the albums, it is some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard

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  20. I’ve just seen the documentary on National Geographic.
    Congratulations Anthony Copping and Pascale for an excellent work! Amazing trip and amazing music!
    Alec
    Romania

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  21. I’ve just seen the documentary on National Geographic.
    Congratulations Anthony Copping and Pascale for an excellent work! Amazing trip and amazing music!
    Alec
    Romania

    Like

  22. I guess I’m going to be the only one to completely agree with the reviewer.
    Maybe I should underline it at the beginning: I’m glad that so many people got interested in this music, and in this sense Anthony Copping is triumphant.
    But as far as my feelings towards the album are concerned, they are exactly the same as reviewer’s. I don’t understand why should one risk his life several times just in order to get some 10-second samples for a record otherwise comprised of new-age’ish singing and electronic beats. I’m a traditional music lover and my heart bleeds every time this beautiful primal singing is raped by lame electronic beats… E.g. this beautiful lullaby that can be heard in pure version on the trailer – does someone seriously believe that those electronics and new-age’ish vocal make it any better? For me the album version of it is a blasphemy.
    Anyway, I’m not against this album, especially considering that I’m glad if anyone is made interested in this music thanks to this release. I’m only convinced that A.Copping ought to release the “pure material” either as a bonus CD or a separate release. As to the questions “who will buy it” – it doesn’t matter. The recordings are already made and paid for, releasing them will hardly cost any additional money (they can be released as mp3s only) so they should be released even if they will only be bought by me, the reviewer and a bunch of ethnomusicologists.

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  23. Hattivat, you can get the source recordings on http://www.lastvoices.com, its not hard. Perhaps before you rush to be critical you could have actually checked!! I have travelled the South Pacific a lot and love this project, and always amazed that people do not understand how much this music resembles the atmosphere of what it is like when you are there.

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  24. Bill – it’s not easy either to get the source recordings. In fact I would go so far as to say they are not there or at least heavily disguised.
    The level of reaction to this record and this review (over 5 years after I wrote the review) is to me fascinating. It seems like Siva Pacifica has become a cult. Looking at the site with its ‘Mantra of the Day – Success Book + DVD’ packages and the like, I suppose it has and perhaps I should not be surprised at all.
    We are all, me included, desperate in our search for meaning, If you get it with new age music and a downloadable mantra, best of luck to you.

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  25. Hi
    You can get all albums -8 ithink on itunes, including “Jungle” my personal favourite. the original source recordings are on itunes, a whole album, so not sure why its so hard, yip

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