Serious Tam

Telek, 2000

George Mamua Telek's songs and his hauntingly beautiful voice, traverse many musical styles capturing the spirit of the Tolai people of Papua New Guinea.

Blending contemporary grooves with Melanesian rhythms, the music is enriched with island harmonies and textured environmental sounds.

Whether it is through his work with the village-based Moab Stringband or his collaboration with Australia's David Bridie (ex Not Drowning Waving), Telek is one of the most important performers in the Pacific region.


  • Surprising sounds from PNG '...closer in style to Australian Aboriginal music than anything Asian. Using acoustic guitar, traditional drums, and three-part harmonies sung in his native Tolau language as well as pidgin English, the mixture is surprisingly accessible...' Wanderlust (UK)
  • 'Serious Tam is a serious breakthrough: it is the first world music CD to feature a Papua New Guinean artist and explore his musical connections with both Pacific and global pop grooves...' Songlines (UK)
  • 'Behind Telek's soaring vocals...are the driving sounds of Pacific guitars and plenty of percussion from PNG and other world traditions. But just as compelling are the mesmerising sounds of the waters, birds and insects whose ambiences so often inspire and blend with the local sounds of PNG songs.' Songlines (UK)
  • Telek's music is rooted in Papuan string band music... His voice is the thing that initially brought him to the attention of Bridie...songs of everyday stuff, snaking melodies with a poetic content and sparse imagery bordering on the Haiku...A beautiful record that reveals more with repeated playing. Folk Roots (UK)
  • ...Telek's music exudes gladness and gentle tropical vibes.' 'Whether a song for collecting coconuts, an amorous proclamation (as the title track), or a lullaby to calm the seas, Telek's music exudes gladness and gentle tropical vibes.' Napra Review (USA)
  • 'Weaving ancestral drums with lulling tropical guitar and his island's unique snaking vocal harmonies, Telek's evocative songs combine ancient elements of Tolai culture with a pop sensibility influenced by the Beatles.' Austin Chronicle (USA)
  • Telek's voice on its own is a thing of rare beauty... ...showcased on love songs such as Iamagit and the title track. When all this loveliness gets too much you can sing along to the "stringband" songs - a distant relation of bluegrass. A magical album.' Sunday Times (UK)
  • Telek deliver a beautiful acoustic set... ...underpinned by traditional percussion. Rich harmonies and delicate arrangements deliver a satisfying album that bears repeated listening.' Music Week (UK)
  • 'This album oozes class from start to finish, from the beautifully structured songs, down to the somnambulant ambient washes and subtle acoustic textures. It's perfect music to drown in and I love it to bits.' Wax (UK)
  • '... an ingratiating sound and one that allows him to embrace global pop in a way that has never been done quite this way till now.' Dirty Linen (USA)
  • ...a very appealing traditional/world pop fusion. 'Give this one a spin, and you'll learn something about New Guinea you can't find in National Geographic...a very appealing traditional/world pop fusion.' Billboard (USA)
  • '...a contemporary world/pop sound with luxuriant melodies and Melanesian rhythms. Sit back, relax and be swept away with this keeper.' Sing Out! (USA)
  • 'Perhaps the first US release ever by a musician from Papua New Guinea, this jubilant world-pop has a tropical vibe, but it's anything but primitive.' Washington Post (USA)
  • '...pop that is perhaps the year's most blithe music.' Washington City Paper (USA)
  • Serious Tam is the product of the fertile musical imagination of Papua New Guinea native George Telek, who draws on the musical traditions of his Tolai ancestors to produce moving worldbeat fusion with a spiritual bent. There's a story that as a child, George Telek chewed a sacred Betel nut and had his dreams opened to the voices of his ancestors, an event that has inspired and informed his songwriting. Telek paints a wistful sonic picture of the Pacific's musical landscape that uses modern studio recording techniques and arrangements to achieve a hip, global sound. This is a fine record from an underexposed island, and rewards repeated listening with new insights, both spiritual and musical. George Telek's ancestors would be proud. Here's Music In Review (USA)
  • ...infectious, undulating rhythms and majestic harmonies. George Mamua Telek is a musician from Papua New Guinea whose simple, acoustically based songs tell of the daily routine in his village "the songs people sing when they pick bananas or collect the coconuts or go fishing", as he puts it. This is however no field recording of only academic interest but a celebration of the everyday business of living. ...with subtle Western instrumentation added that in no way detracts from Telek's infectious, undulating rhythms and majestic harmonies. Rating: **** Birmingham Evening Post (UK)