Big Library Read: Questlove’s Music is history

Music is History Big Library Read

 

This month’s Big Library Read, Libby’s “global ebook club” , showcases his fourth book called Music is history. In Music is history, Questlove uses his encyclopaedic knowledge of music and history as a lens to examine American history. Specifically, he examines how specific tracks and albums encapsulate certain moments in time in American history over the past fifty years. Questlove is in a truly unique position to tell this history; he’s part of the story and a student of both music and the wider reaches of cultural history. Big Library Read is an opportunity for library users around the world to read the same digital title at the same time. So, from April 4th to April 18th, you can participate in this global ebook club, without any wait lists or holds.

Questlove is one of the most high profile and well-known musician/ producers around. as well as being an author, music journalist, and award-winning  film director. A self-confessed obsessive music crate digger and music historian, over the course of the last thirty years or so he has played a key role in the hip hop and sampling scene. He’s also gone on to produce countless artists, such Amy Winehouse and Al Green to name but two.

In Music is history, Questlove selects tracks from his birth in 1971 to the present day to illustrate how music and American history reflect each other. It is a hugely informative and entertaining work, and the tracks Questlove selects are wide ranging, eclectic and fascinating. They really demonstrate his formidable knowledge. It’s all done in a highly readable and personable style, certainly a must read for music buffs and cultural historians.

To learn more about the Big Library Read, follow this link. You can borrow Music is history via ebook here or audiobook here

To give you a flavour of the book, below is just a tiny selection of the albums containing some of the tracks Questlove uses to illustrate his points.

The head on the door [deluxe] / Cure
“Contents CD1: Inbetween days — Kyoto song — The blood — Six different ways — Push — The baby screams — Close to me — A night like this — Screw — Sinking.CD2 (Rarities 1984-1985): Notes Originally released in 1985 – includes bonus disc.” ( Adapted from Catalogue )

 

It takes a nation of millions to hold us back [3 CD]. / Public Enemy
“It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, a record that rewrote the rules of what hip-hop could do. That’s not to say the album is without precedent, since what’s particularly ingenious about the album is how it reconfigures things that came before into a startling, fresh, modern sound. Public Enemy used the template Run-D.M.C. created of a rap crew as a rock band, then brought in elements of free jazz, hard funk, even musique concrète, via their producing team, the Bomb Squad, creating a dense, ferocious sound unlike anything that came before.  ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Maggot brain. / Funkadelic
“It starts with a crackle of feedback shooting from speaker to speaker and a voice intoning, “Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time, for y’all have knocked her up” and talking about rising “above it all or drown in my own sh*t.” This could only have been utterly bizarre back in 1971 and it’s no less so decades later; though the Mothership was well on its way already, Maggot Brain really helped it take off. ~ Ned Raggett” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Parade : music from the motion picture Under the cherry moon / Prince
“Undaunted by the criticism Around the World in a Day received, Prince continued to pursue his psychedelic inclinations on Parade, which also functioned as the soundtrack to his second film, Under the Cherry Moon. Originally conceived as a double album, Parade has the sprawling feel of a double record, even if it clocks in around 45 minutes. — If it had been expanded to a double album, Parade would have equaled the subsequent Sign ‘o’ the Times, but as it stands, it’s an astonishingly rewarding near-miss. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Police. / Police (Musical group)
“To coincide with their 30th anniversary reunion tour in 2007 the Police released the anthology The Police, the first two-CD retrospective ever assembled on the group. They may not have had a double compilation to their credit, but they had single discs and box sets, which may raise the question of whether they need a set like this — and the answer is yes, but this set falls just a bit short of being the definitive Police double disc. At only 28 tracks, this feels a little too slim.  ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Creative quest / Questlove
“Questlove – musician, bandleader, designer, producers, culinary entrepreneur, professor, and all-round cultural omnivore – draws on a life-time experience to offer insights into how to build the best creative life, and how to let the best creative life build you. Questlove has worked with or around hundreds of other artists, and engaged in dialogue with them regarding the creative process, whether in person or from an appreciation of their work: musicians like D’Angelo and Björk, filmmakers like Ava DuVernay and Mike Birbiglia, comedians, chefs, designers, writers, and more.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Mo’ meta blues : the world according to Questlove / Questlove
“Mo’ Meta Blues is a punch-drunk memoir in which Everyone’s Favorite Questlove tells his own story while tackling some of the lates, the greats, the fakes, the philosophers, the heavyweights, and the true originals of the music world. He digs deep into the album cuts of his life and unearths some pivotal moments in black art, hip hop, and pop culture.”–Book jacket.” (Catalogue)

 

Soul train : the music, dance, and style of a generation / Questlove
“From Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of the award-winning hip-hop group the Roots, comes this vibrant book commemorating the legacy of Soul Train—the cultural phenomenon that launched the careers of artists such as Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson 5, Whitney Houston, Lenny Kravitz, LL Cool J, and Aretha Franklin. Questlove reveals the remarkable story of the captivating program, and his text is paired with more than 350 photographs of the show’s most memorable episodes and the larger-than-life characters who defined it: the great host Don Cornelius, the extraordinary musicians, and the people who lived the phenomenon from dance floor. Gladys Knight contributed a foreword to this incredible volume. Nick Cannon contributed the preface.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Interview: Legendary musician David Long

Photo of David Long against a light yellow circle and his latest album art.


David Long is a legend in the New Zealand music scene. He started his musical career performing in the Braille Collective, in bands such as Six Volts and Jungle, and was a founding member of The Mutton Birds with Don McGlashan. These days, Long can be found working in a very wide spectrum of musical activities.

Long did compositional music for contemporary dance pieces working extensively with choreographer Douglas Wright. He works on the musical, soundscape side for a whole host of television and film projects; he has worked with Peter Jackson and has played some part in every one of his film for the last twenty years, including Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Long even worked with Brian Eno on the soundtrack to The Lovely Bones.

He also does a lot of production work, having produced many of New Zealand’s finest musicians and ,recently, doing production work for the recently formed Oro record label.

Long has worked on a wide range of collaborative projects, such as with Richard Nunn and Natalia Mann on the album Utterance. He has also just released a new work of his own, titled Ash and Bone. He has also won several silver scroll APRA awards, amongst many other musical accolades. Basically, in musical terms , Long has excelled at everything and so when we got the chance to interview him, we jumped at it.

Coming soon, we have an exclusive filmed interview with Long where we talk all things musical. For now, to whet your appetite, we recently had the pleasure of interviewing Long in conjunction with the Caffeine and Aspirin on Radioactive FM about his new album, Ash and Bone, and various other aspects of his career. Below is the podcast of that interview for your enjoyment:

We are thrilled that Long has taken time out from his very busy schedule to talk to us about his new release, his career, and all things musical. We extend our heartfelt thanks. Keep an eye out for our filmed interview coming soon!

For more information on David, visit https://www.davidlongnz.com/

And for more information on Rattle records, visit https://rattle.co.nz/


Envy of angels [1 CD] / Mutton Birds
“Envy of Angels could have been recorded ten years earlier considering its invocation of the new south — in particular the moodiness of Dumptruck — not to mention similarities to more commercial guitar rock of the same period […] Perhaps it isn’t a coincidence that Hugh Jones, who also worked with Dumptruck, produced Envy of Angels. He renders the Mutton Birds’ guitar strum and jangle in more solemn than bright tones, which suits the sometimes poetic lyrics and unusual chord progressions. ~ Greg Adams” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Ash and bone. / Long, David
“Musicians David Long, synthesisers, banjo, electronics, electric guitar ; Carolyn Mills, harp ; Andrew Jarvis, tuba ; Mark Carter, trumpet ; Rachel Vernon, bass clarinet ; Pat Barry, clarinet ; Bridget Douglas, flute ; Riki Gooch, percussion, electronics. Contents Underground — Ash and bone — I follow it — You want to fight everything — The long long walk — A second glance — Wash your mouth out — Water the earth.” ( Adapted from Catalogue.) 

Utterance / Long, David
“Musicians …David Long, banjo, theremin, bowed guitar ; Richard Nunns, taonga pūoro ; Natalia Mann, harp, prepared harp, zither, gongs, voice. Tracks Perilous knowledge — Old shadows — Spider shell — Upper circle, lower case — Celestial dog — Mercury — The nearest clear liquid — We died once — City of green — Hidden cameras — Begin again.” ( Adapted from Catalogue) 

Flock : the best of The Mutton Birds / Mutton Birds

” Other Title Best of The Mutton Birds. Contents …Dominion Road — Nature — The heater — A thing well made — White Valiant — In my room — Anchor me — Wellington — Queen’s English — Don’t fear the reaper — While you sleep — She’s been talking — Come around — Envy of angels — As close as this — Last year’s shoes — Pulled along by love — Not to take sides.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

The Mutton Birds. / Mutton Birds
Dominion Road (3:55) — Your window (4:39) — A thing well made (4:39) — She’s like a city (3:56) — Before the breakthrough (4:52) — White Valiant (5:12) — Giant friend (3:15) — Big fish (4:33) — No plans for later (2:31) — Nature (3:39).” ( Adapted from Catalogue) 

 

Salty / Mutton Birds
The heater — Ngaire — You will return — Wellington — In my room — When the wind comes round — Queen’s English — Salty my dear — There’s a limit — Esther — No telling when — Anchor me — Too close to the sun — Don’t fight it, Marsha, it’s bigger than both of us. ” ( Adapted from Catalogue) 

 

 

New CDs for Te Awe

I’m Mark, the Music & Film Specialist at Wellington City Libraries (I also run the Libraries’ Wellington Music Facebook page). Every month my colleague Neil and I cast our eye over the new material we have been buying for the Music collection at our CBD Te Awe library and put our highlights here with some quick reviews of some new titles — our limit is a few lines only to distil down why you might want to listen. Do we actually know anything about new music? Can you encapsulate an entire album in just a couple of lines? Are we just too old to understand what most of this music is on about (see self-image below)? Read on to find out…

via GIPHY

Statler: Well, it was good.
Waldorf: Ah, it was very bad.
Statler: Well, it was average.
Waldorf: Ah, it was in the middle there.
Statler: Ah, it wasn’t that great.
Waldorf: I kind of liked it.”
-‘The Muppet Show’.

Doomin’ sun. / Bachelor (Musical group)
Mark: More 90’s inspired pop/rock from collaborative project Bachelor (Ellen Kempner of Palehound, and Melina Duterte AKA Jay Som). There’s nothing original happening musically but it’s sincere and well crafted, with catchy tunes and fuzzy guitars. Enjoyable.
Neil: Bachelor, named ironically after the American reality show Bachelor nation, is indie rock at its most personal and confessional. The lyrics are a vulnerable concoction of tension and joy, love and insecurity intermingled in tales of real-life queer experience. The albums sound is mostly lo-fi minimalism, with occasional bursts of guitar coming through. It reminded me in parts of early Throwing Muses releases such as the Fat Skier.

Downhill from everywhere. / Browne, Jackson
Mark: Alongside Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, Browne is one of the quintessential singer/songwriters of the ’70s, with his folky, mature take on the lives of the Baby Boomer generation. ‘Downhill from everywhere’, his first album since 2014’s Standing in the Breach, offers up more of the same sensitive, introspective, folk-rock with charismatic easy listening tracks, that tackle the nexus of personal & social struggles that the world still offers up no matter how old you are.
Neil: Jackson Browne is one of those singer signwriting legends; a hugely accomplished and acclaimed artist. This is his first release in six years, and he has dropped hints that it may be his last release, indeed one of the tracks on the album is about his life after and beyond his music career. ‘Downhill from everywhere’ finds him in exceptional vintage form. The lyrics deal in a wide and rich detailed array of subject personal and beyond. They are warm, lyrical, and articulate. His voice is undiminished by range and, unsurprisingly, the musicians backing him are of the finest calibre. Indeed, if it wasn’t for the release date on this album, you could easily mistake this for one of his albums from his golden period of the 70’s and early 80’s. It this is to be his swansong, then it is a very fitting one.

Hotel Surrender. / Faker, Chet
Mark: Australian singer/songwriter Nick Murphy resurrects his Chet Faker moniker for another album of electronica, that segues between smooth grooves and relaxed vibes. Laid back cool that drifts along with no particular destination other than chilling you out.
Neil: Chet Faker is an invented musical space in singer Nicholas Murphy’s aka Chet Fakers head. It might sound a bit pretentious, but the music has a laid back 70’s feel to it. The songs live in the moment and ask the listener to appreciate the moment for what it is. There’s a mellow breezy, sunny warmth to the end results. As if you were floating in Chet’s private pool on a warm summer’s day staring up at a perfect blue sky.

Leave love out of this. / Tonnon, Anthonie
Mark: The Whanganui musician (and also new operator of the famous Durie Hill Elevator) is back with his third album of chamber pop meets synthesized sound. Guitars sit next to synth washes and drum machines, and styles shift from ambient house to intimate ballads and swirling vocals. An ambitious piece of work that aims for epic in scale and often succeeds.
Neil: Aotearoan musician Anthonie Tonnon has been perfecting his musical art over many years. ‘And Leave love out of this’ feels like a culmination and synthesis of all this labour. Crystalline slabs of 80’s synth punctuate stylishly crafted balladeer songs, full of empathy and melodic subtly.

Mammoth WVH. / Mammoth WVH
Mark: WVH is Wolfgang William Van Halen, son of guitarist Eddie Van Halen, and the bassist for Van Halen from 2006 to 2020. His debut album ‘Mammoth’, on which he played every instrument, is very much a classic stadium rock album in the vein of classic Foo Fighters or Stone Temple Pilots. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as this album of big fun riff driven songs proves. On the basis of this album Guns N’ Roses picked him as the support act for their recent US Tour.
Neil: Being the son of rock legend Eddie Van Halen and playing bass for your fathers’ band Van Halen for the past 14 years perhaps leads to expectations about what your first solo outing might sound like. However, Wolfgang Van Halen’s Mammoth, in which he incidentally performs all instruments and vocals, is not the cookie cutter album you might have expected. Sure, its mainstream stadium hard rock at its core but there are also elements of grunge, metal, and alternative rock in there too.

Man made. / Greentea Peng
Mark: Greentea Peng is the moniker of Aria Wells, a ‘psychedelic’ R’n’B singer and songwriter from London. On the strength of her 2018 EP she made The Observer newspaper’s 20 for 2020 list of rising stars in music, media and culture. Debut album ‘Man Made’ is Hip-Hop meets dub reggae, with a political stance focusing on the voices of youth, with themes of unity & spirituality. Hazy beats surround positive matra’s and messages.
Neil: Hazy rap with slight nods to the likes of De La Soul or A Tribe Called Quest with distinctive elements of cool Jazz, psychedelia and chilled Reggae thrown in. ‘Man Made’ is still very much Greentea Peng’s unique approach to music and life, with its idiosyncratic and distinctive sound. It makes for a very hip and happening summer soundtrack without being too intense.

Peace or love. / Kings of Convenience
Mark: The indie folk-pop duo from Norway return after 12 years with a new album. A distillation of their previous albums sounds, this is a lovely tranquil acoustic set with touches of bossa-nova. Reflective easy listening of the very best kind. Great to relax to at the end of the day.
Neil: Kings of convenience are regarded as part of the “new acoustic” movement, but the Norwegian duo’s elegant, melodic, carefully constructed songs lift them well above this clumsy and lazy description. Dreamy easy listening that is delicate, relaxed, and beautiful.

Prosthetic boombox. / Cola Boyy
Mark: Cola Boyy is Matthew Urango, who was born with spina bifida, kyphosis and scoliosis, as well as a club foot. His debut album, Prosthetic Boombox, was released by the French label Record Makers & features appearances from Nicolas Godin of Air and Andrew VanWyngarden. Deliriously giddy funky disco anthems reign supreme on this debut album, that’s all about fighting for who you are. The (deliberate I’m sure) cheesiness of some of the music only adds to the fun. Sort of like the soundtrack that your cab driver in ‘Grand Theft Auto: New York in the 70’s’ would be playing as you drive to Studio 54…
Neil: Cola Boyy’s debut album sounds like his own very personal and unique take on 80’s disco funk with a slightly psychedelic twist. A playful, upbeat sugar rush of sound that also embraces elements of house. So far so good but there’s much more to Prosthetic Boombox as the title, album cover and lyrics allude to. His powerful struggle with the discrimination and prejudice associated with his disabilities feature in the lyrics often in an upbeat and factual fashion.

Sharecropper’s son. / Finley, Robert
Mark: Robert Finley is an American blues and soul singer-songwriter who released his debut album at age 63. That led to meeting Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, who produced and co-wrote his 2nd album. This follow-up, also produced by Auerbach, is a series of autobiographical tracks based on his upbringing on a crop share in Louisiana. More southern soul than blues, Finley has a fantastically authentic voice, and the tales he tells are of real struggles and hard won successes, the triumph of spirit over circumstances.
Neil: Robert Finley possesses one of those unforgettable husky soul blues voices, that sounds straight out of the classic recordings in that genre from the 50’s or 60’s. But Robert Finlay is not an artist recreating the sound of the past; he is the real deal. He only came to a career in music in his sixties, after a lifetime of experience that included attending a segregated school, having to spend his childhood picking cotton, house fires, car crashes and going blind. He said that going blind lead him to pursue his singing late in life. His previous two albums shot him to almost immediate acclaim. You can hear this lifetime of experience seeping through every aspect of this autobiographical work. The production by Dan Auerbach from The black Keys perfectly complements. A powerful and pitch-perfect, timeless, and instant classic soul blues album.

Thirstier. / Torres
Mark: Fifth full-length album from Mackenzie Scott (Aka Torres) is a slick slice of hooky pop-grunge. She was aiming for a big sound and a larger than life scope, different from the more restrained aesthetic of her previous albums. ‘Thirstier’ delivers that in spades, with a set of uplifting indie rock throwbacks.
Neil: ‘Thirstier’ by Torres is a big sounding, riff heavy, hook laden, euphoric sounding indie rock album, with heavy guitars thrown in. It’s an exuberant upbeat outing, with a grunge rock set free rolling vibe about it. A great happy alternative sing along album for uncertain times.

I be trying. / Burnside, Cedric
Mark: Old school Mississippi country blues, with some modern touches, from the grandson of R.L. Burnside. Perseverance through life’s struggle and your own mistakes, and the power of love are the focus of this update of a storied musical style.
Neil: Cedric Burnside is on a revival and resurrection mission. His album breathes new life and makes fresh the Mississippi blues tradition of giants like John Lee Hooker. The album manages to be reverential to that tradition, whilst not sounding like a museum piece. Indeed the music sounds fresh and vibrant. The lyrics are often of self-discovery, admissions of an imperfect past and the hard lessons learned. A valuable revitalisation of a rich musical tradition that has deep roots into America’s social history.

Gas lit / Divide and Dissolve
Mark: Female Melbourne-based two-piece with Cherokee & Māori ancestry, whose 3rd album is produced Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Ruban Nielson. Eight tracks of sludgy doom shift between quiet beauty and cacophonic noise. Dread and unease abound on these heavy tracks, that the band say are an instrumental critique of colonialism and oppression.
Neil: ‘Divide and dissolve’ has a strong dynamic going on, moving as it does from ethereal and haunting melodic moments to intense loud and full-on heavy drone doom metal. It’s quite an achievement mixing political sludge metal with avant-garde classical structured jazz. A ride full of passion and intensity both challenging and rewarding.

Jump for joy. / Louris, Gary
Mark: The 2nd solo album from the ex-Jayhawk arrives 13 years afters 2008’s Vagabonds. Louris plays every instrument on this set of songs, that range through melodic pop tracks, to darker more personal ruminations. Similar in tone to the albums made as Golden Smog, the loose collective featuring Louris and members of Soul Asylum, Wilco, the Replacements, and Big Star. Breezy jangle pop meets Americana reflections. While the Jayhawks continue on as one of the iconic Americana groups, it’s nice to hear him stepping out on his own again.
Neil: Gary Louris from The Jayhawks is very much following the radio friendly singer songwriter path in this album. ‘Jump for Joy’ is his second solo album, and it is a thoughtful and well-crafted outing. The tracks remind me of George Harrison penned Beatles tracks, or songs that would sit well on the first Travelling Wilburys album.

Oil of every pearl’s un-insides. / Sophie [VINYL ONLY]
Mark: There’s no denying the production talent and vision at play here, as Sophie creates her multi-layered tracks without using any samples. Her body of work, though small, erased genre, geographic and emotional boundaries to create a maximalist pop that’s an ongoing influence on young hyperpop Tik-Tokers and Electronic music in general. Her ‘radical futurism’ blended the experimental & the mainstream, and was the direct anthesis of the cultivated nostalgia of so much ‘modern’ music and bands. However if you are unfamiliar with her work, how much you like this album will probably depend on how much helium voices and vocal processing you can stand at one time.
Neil: The death of Sophie Xeon in January this year was a tragedy in so many ways. The personal tragedy of losing someone so young is incalculable, and the loss to music of such a unique hugely gifted pioneering artist is equally immense. We will never know or hear those albums she would have gone on to create. What we do have is Sophie’s only album ‘Oil on every pearl’s un-insides’. This is one of a very few genuine 21st century masterpieces. One of the few albums in recent decades that point to a new musical future, direction, form, and language.

Urban driftwood. / Williams, Yasmin
Mark: Lovely mellow instrumental guitar album. Made a Guardian list of the Best Albums of 2021 so far. Immersive and relaxing.
Neil: Very smooth and immersive instrumental guitar album. Described by Yasmin herself as an abstract diary of 2020. At the albums heart is Yasmin’s virtuosic, serene, and eminently relaxing guitar playing – which is both intimate and immediate. A very soothing listen.

 

Revelation. / Carn, Doug
Mark: Doug Carn was a Jazz multi-instrumentalist whose 4 albums on the short lived but influential Black Jazz label pioneered the ‘Spiritual’ Jazz sound, with its Afro-centric musical aesthetic. ‘Revelation’ was the final collaboration between Carn and his wife Jean on the label. Organ, keys & horns form the basis of modal post bop tunes, including a lovely reading of John Coltrane’s “Naima”, all surrounded and interwoven with Carn’s beautifully soulful five-octave voice. Hugely influential. Carn would later add an extra ‘e’ to her surname and go on to much success as a solo R&B artist on Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International label & beyond.
Neil: Rerelease of the 1973 album out originally on the short lived, but hugely influential, Black Jazz label from Doug and Jean Carn. Doug’s name may have been on the cover, but this is very much a joint effort with his then wife Jean. It is quintessentially a very 70’s Jazz album with elements of spiritual and soul jazz. In many ways the album is a fascinating and perfect time capsule of a piece from that time period. Right from the arrangements, to the selection of instruments used, not to mention the subjects explored. That said, it is rather wonderful in its own unique way, and due to the current music worlds obsession with the music and sound of that time, it is bound to win lots of new fans

Memory lake. / Rivers, Colette
Mark: Classy singer/songwriter-country album similar to the work of Kim Richey or Gretchen Peters. Alt-rock elements take some tracks in a different direction and vary things up. An impressive debut from this Wgtn based artist.
Neil: American born New Zealander Colette River’s debut album has many faces, facets and sides, with Colette using a diverse and multi layered sound palette in a tailored fashion to accompany individual tracks. The whole album is underpinned by an American Indie Folk core. Her willingness to use different instrumentation and sounds gives each track its own individual feel. A very accomplished debut outing.

Run deep. / Mahal, Deva
Mark: Born in Hawaii but raised in NZ, Deva Mahal was part of the Wgtn scene in the 2000’s guesting on albums from Sola Rosa & Rhombus, and cutting a live EP. After living in the US for a while, where she released this 2018 album, she returned to NZ in 2020. Her rich voice is framed within a classicist neo-soul outing that travels a musical path of uplifting R&B, piano ballads, 70s funk & 80s pop elements, based around themes of love, heartbreak & empowerment. ‘Wicked’ & ‘Optimist’ liven things up a bit, and ‘It’s down to you’ has a lovely old-school vibe. But as a whole, the album is perhaps limited by the over familiarity of the ‘Neo-Soul’ template at this point.
Neil: Classical Soul music, enriched and revitalised, in a contemporary and modern setting by Deva Mahal in this heartfelt debut album. Echoes of greats like Aretha Franklin’s work lingers on in this strong and substantial R&B offering that feels both relevant and new, whilst also having deep connections to the rich tradition of this musical form. Deva has placed her own unique interpretation of this musical genre into every aspect of this album, much in the same way as Amy Winehouse managed to do so, integrating both her own vision and at the same time paying her dues to this rich musical heritage.

Obviously. / Lake Street Dive
Mark: 7th album from this Boston indie Music-school band who play bubbly slick pop-soul. The band is built around singer Rachael Price’s voice, which has a distinctly classic tone. I really enjoyed this. All the songs are super catchy and, while this album emulates the same genres as a lot of other albums on this list, the songs are just so much better. The arrangements all have a live uncluttered feel, you can hear each instrument in the mix, and how they work cleverly around Price’s voice. Definitely a winner.
Neil: Obviously, there’s something about the early 70’s music scene that attracts a lot of modern bands to that particular period and music. And there’s more sweet 70’s influenced musical vibes going on here, with Lake Street Dive’s seventh studio album ‘Obviously’. This time it’s the funky, soulful pop of the time that the band are taking their musical queues from. ‘Obviously’ is a good time, slightly chilled, summer concert party of an album. A retro sounding, beautifully produced and well executed album, played by highly talented musicians at the peak of their powers.

Box Set Pick:
Aretha. / Franklin, Aretha
Mark: The first career spanning Box Set for the Queen of Soul. Covers most of her well known tracks, though some are in alternate or demo form, as well as some interesting rarities from TV show appearances and the like. What more can you really say about one of the greatest voices of the 20th Century that hasn’t already been said. It’s Aretha…
Neil: Reviewing this career spanning four-disc box set is just an excuse for me to wax lyrical about how amazingly, phenomenally, wonderful Aretha Franklin was and is. The box set is packed with all the well-known tracks (though usually in alternative versions) and career highlights, as well as lost gems from the vaults. Aretha Franklin is one of the greatest singers of all time with a voice that melts, hearts, souls and reaches out and across time. It goes without saying that the music contained in this box set is unmissable and peerless, and the compilers have taken a lot of care to feature alternative takes mixes and rarities.

Pioneering Reggae musician and producer Lee Scratch Perry has passed at 85

The unpredictable, eccentric, maverick, pioneering Reggae producer, and musical genius Lee Scratch Perry has passed at 85.

Lee Scratch Perry was born into harsh poverty in rural Jamaica and throughout his life walked a very thin line between genius and insanity. He worked in various menial jobs before moving to Kingston in the early 60’s where he eventually started working with Clement “Coxsone” Dodd and his touring sound system. Dodd and Perry eventually expanded into record production and, beginning a pattern that would follow Perry his whole life, Perry subsequently fell out with Dodd and went on to form his own Upsetter label.

Around this time, he produced many of  Bob Marley’s key early works, such as African Herbsman and had a profound effect on the young Marley’s creative vision and approach. Following the now clearly emerging pattern, the pair fell out after Lee Scratch Perry sold the master tapes of this early classic without Marley’s knowledge or consent.

His adventurous, ever-exploring production work in his legendary four track twelve-foot square Black Ark Studio in the mid to late 70’s cemented his reputation with a string of critically and commercially albums. And along the way with fellow sonic pioneer King Tubby, he was one of the key creative forces to create Dub music. However, his eccentric behaviour continued and came to a head in 1979, when fuelled by huge amounts of work, ganga and rum, he burnt the studio to the ground, believing it possessed and walked off into the wilderness. He eventually moved to Switzerland after spending time in the U.S, Amsterdam, and London, and only last year returned to Jamaica.

His later work was inconsistent but did include some fabulous collaborations with the likes of The Ord, The Beastie Boys and The  Clash, as well as fellow producers Adrian Sherwood and Mad Professor as well as several excellent solo albums. He also picked up a Grammy in 2003. During these later years was a failed attempt to rebuild the Black Ark studio, a plan which included a duck pond in the drum booth. It is an understatement to say we shall not see the likes of Lee Scratch Perry again.

We have an extensive selection of Lee Scratch Perry produced and created albums in our collection; below are just a few of our personal favourites. To see all of the Lee Scratch Perry works we have in our collection click here.

Arkology. / Perry, Lee
“Purportedly the definitive Lee “Scratch” Perry compilation, the three-CD set Arkology is loaded with good intentions and is carefully constructed, but with a back catalog like Perry’s — where it’s nearly impossible to find out what’s what — definitive in this case is a dream. Still, the compilers have done a fine job of providing an overview of Perry’s career that makes sense musically, historically, and culturally. For those who want to jump headlong into Perry’s world, this is the way to go.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

African herbsman / Marley, Bob
“The legendary Bob Marley and the Wailers album produced by Lee Scratch Perry.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

 

Lee Perry and King Tubby in dub confrontation. / Perry, Lee
“King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry deep in the cauldron of creativity that invented Dub reggae” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

The sound doctor : Lee Perry and the sufferers’ Black Ark singles and dub plates, 1972-1978. / Perry, Lee
“The Sound Doctor is one in a series of U.K. label Pressure Sounds compilations unearthing obscured sounds from Perry’s short-lived but intensely innovative Black Ark years. Much of the music here is transferred from dub plates, hissy acetate discs made directly from the soundboard in single editions to test how a mix would translate to vinyl.” (adapted from catalogue)

Super ape / Perry, Lee
” Often arguably cited as one of Lee Scratch Perry’s finest outings, but with so many exceptional albums it is a hard call to make. What there is no argument about is that  Super Ape is without any question an unparalleled dub and psychedelic reggae classic.” (Adapted from Catalogue). This is the vinyl copy; to check availability of the CD click here.

 

Scratch came Scratch saw Scratch conquered. / Perry, Lee
“Highly-regarded late period (2008) album from dub and reggae legend Lee Scratch Perry’. (Adapted from catalogue).

 

 

 

Blackboard jungle dub / Upsetters
“Essential Dub reggae album from Lee Scratch Perry and the Upsetters”(Adapted from catalogue)

 

 

 

Rootz reggae dub. / Perry, Lee
“On Rootz Reggae Dub Perry is doing his typical free-associative muttering over tasteful, slightly echoey backing tracks, featuring rudimentary percussion by Perry himself, as well as spirited backing vocals by Detroit trio Dames Brown and the Groovematist.  Essentially, it’s a lot of touching on past glories without really creating anything that stands up to them. Nevertheless, there are a few standout moments  which are calm, spacious, and pleasantly weird. ” (adapted from catalogue)

Rainford. / Perry, Lee
“Rainford contains all of Lee Perry’s unique stylings his wonderful iconic unmistakable vocal drawl and his trade mark free form lyrical style superbly combined with U Sounds musical production. The later dub remixed version Heavy rain is also worth a mention it is weirder and warmer and arguably an even better version of the material in Rainford.” (adapted from catalogue)
Click here for the availability of Heavy Rain.

Over 50 years of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine

It is now over 50 years ago since the world’s biggest band released what is now regarded as their revolutionary landmark in, not music this time, but animation:

via GIPHY

Yellow Submarine (1968) was The Beatles fourth film — a psychedelic tour de force. However, other than very short cameo roles at the end of the film, the voices of the fab four were all provided by actors. The vocal cast included two major British comic talents of the time — Lance Percival and Dick Emery. In the end, George Harrison was voiced by two actors after the first was arrested for deserting the British Army mid-way through the film’s production.

The plot — a mind-expanding story — was written by Lee Minoff and was based on the lyrics of the title track penned by Lennon and McCartney. The (at the time) cutting edge style used revolutionary techniques such as rotoscoping  to create the  hallucinogenic, eye-popping visuals. The film is a million miles away from the mainstream Disney style prevalent at that time. Animated films during the period were at a low ebb — indeed some commentators have said the film saved feature-length animated film from a slow creative eclipse that it was experiencing at the time.

Watching it now, the film is still a joy to behold — playful, “child-friendly” and a glorious example of 60s surrealist, psychedelic pop art, coupled with a very funny script reportedly largely written by the uncredited Roger McGough. Of course, it also features an outstanding music soundtrack, which includes four Beatles songs previously unreleased at that point. Incidentally, the orchestral pieces from the film were later used by NASA in their short Apollo 9 promo film.

As John Lennon said of the movie, “I think it’s a great movie, it’s my favourite Beatle movie.”

You can borrow the film, soundtrack, graphic novel and even the songbook from us — full details below:

DVD

Yellow submarine / Beatles
“The legendary film. Once upon a time… or maybe twice, there was an unearthly paradise called Pepperland, a place where happiness and music reigned supreme. But all that was threatened when the terrible Blue Meanies declared war and sent in their army led by a menacing Flying Glove to destroy all that was good. Enter John, Paul, George and Ringo to save the day! Armed with little more than their humour, songs, and of course, their yellow submarine, The Beatles tackle the rough seas ahead in an effort to bring down the evil forces of bluedom” (Catalogue)

Music CD

Yellow submarine : songtrack / Beatles
Featuring tracks: Yellow submarine — Hey bulldog — Eleanor Rigby — Love you to — All together now — Lucy in the sky with diamonds — Think for yourself — Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band — With a little help from my friends — Baby you’re a rich man — Only a Northern song — All you need is love — When I’m sixty four — Nowhere man — It’s all too much.

Songbook

Yellow submarine. / Beatles
Note-for-note transciptions for guitar from the movie soundtrack contents include transcriptions for: Yellow submarine — Hey bulldog — Eleanor Rigby — Love you to — All together now — Lucy in the sky with diamonds — Think for yourself — Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band — With a little help from my friends — Baby you’re a rich man — Only a northern song — All you need is love — When I’m sixty four — Nowhere man — It’s all too much.

Comic

The Beatles : yellow submarine / Morrison, Bill
“The Beatles are recruited by the Captain of the Yellow Submarine to help him free Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the world of Pepperland from the music-hating Blue Meanies. The music-loving,  paradise of Pepperland has been overrun by the music-hating Blue Meanies. Pepperland’s mayor sends aging sailor, Young Fred out in the fabled Yellow Submarine to find help. He travels to our world where he stumbles across the Beatles and begs them to help him free his world. They agree and head back to Pepperland, to help overthrow the evil Blue Meanies through the power of music and loved.” (Catalogue)

Bunny Wailer, the last surviving founder member of The Wailers, passes at 73

The night is passed, the day is come
I see Jah shining in the shining sun.” Bunny Wailer – Lyrics from Armagideon. 

It is almost impossible to calculate the influence on modern music that The Wailers had. They revolutionised reggae, making it into the worldwide phenomenon it has become,  as well as leaving a cultural and social legacy way beyond their fabulous, and at the time ground-breaking, music. Bunny Wailer formed The Wailers with childhood friend Bob Marley in 1963 with Peter Tosh joining as the third core member soon after. They released their first album The Wailing Wailers in 1965; in actual fact, the release was less an album and more a collection of their best and most notable singles to that date, including such tracks as ‘Simmer Down’. It was their collaborations with producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry that was to really point the way to the future which was cemented when they released Catch a Fire on Island Records, often regarded as one of the greatest reggae albums of all time.

Bunny Wailer left The Wailers in 1973 and set off on an acclaimed solo career winning three Grammys along the way for best reggae album. We have extensive reggae, The Wailers and Bob Marley and the Wailers collections in our music collection – below are just a few of the highlights.

The wailing Wailers. / Wailers (Reggae)
“The Wailers first album containing: Put it on — I need you — Lonesome feeling — What’s new pussycat — One love — When the well runs dry — Ten commandments of love — Rude boy — It hurts to be alone — Love or affection — I’m still waiting — Simmer down.” ( Adapted from Catalogue) .

 

Blackheart man. / Wailer, Bunny
“Cast : Bunny Wailer,  Aston “Family Man” Barrett, Carlton “Carly” Barrett,  Robbie Shakespeare,  Tyrone Downie, Peter Tosh,  Tommy McCook and  Earl “Chinna” Smith.  Contents:  Blackheart man — Fighting against conviction — The oppressed song — Fig tree — Dream land — Rastaman — Reincarnated souls — Armagideon (Armagedon) — Bide up — This train.” ( Adapted from Catalogue) 

 

Catch a fire / Marley, Bob
“Catch a Fire was the major label debut for Bob Marley and the Wailers, and it was an international success upon its release in 1973. Although Bob Marley may have been the main voice, every member of the Wailers made valuable contributions and they were never more united in their vision and sound. All the songs were originals, and the instrumentation was minimalistic in order to bring out the passionate, often politically charged lyrics. This album is essential for any music collection.” (Catalogue)

Mama Africa. / Tosh, Peter
“Cast: Peter Tosh, Carlton “Santa” Davis, Lebert “Gibby” Morrison, Steve Golding, Donald Kinsey, Keith Stirling, Noel “Scully” Simms, Byron Allred and Dean “Youth Sax” Fraser. Contents : Side A: Mama Africa — Glass house — Not gonna give it up — Stop that train.  Side B: Johnny B. Goode — Where you gonna run — Peace treaty — Feel no way — Maga dog.” (Adapted from Catalogue.)  

 

Heavy rain. / Perry, Lee
“Produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry and Adrian Sherwood the dub companion to Rainford. Contents : Intro: music shall echo — Here come the warm dreads — Rattling bones and crowns — Mind worker — Enlightened — Hooligan Hank — Crickets in moonlight — Space craft — Dreams come true — Above and beyond — Heavy Rainford — Outro: wisdom.” (Adapted from Catalogue.)  

I & I : the natural mystics : Marley, Tosh and Wailer / Grant, Colin
“The Wailers are the undisputed kings of reggae, and one of the biggest and most influential groups of the 20th century. This book examines the history and development of the Wailers, and the overlapping stories of each member in detail. It also charts the complex relationship of these three strong personalities.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“Reality ….. up for grabs” Our exclusive interview with author David Keenan

We think we’re walking into the future. We fool ourselves! But every last damn one of us is walking straight into the past.

David Keenan, in This Is Memorial Device

We are very excited to welcome (in an electronic sense) multi-award-winning Scottish author David Keenan for a wide-ranging online interview, exclusive to Wellington City Libraries.

David is one of the most innovative, exciting and dynamic authors writing in English at the moment, with huge ambitions for his work way beyond the conventional parameters of fiction. His fiction output is truly extraordinary — vibrant, visceral, genre-breaking and immersive. It could easily be said he’s a pioneering visionary when it comes to what fiction is and can be — and his many past lives are just as interesting.

A self-confessed music evangelist, David was a long-time writer for the legendary and hugely influential Wire magazine. He also ran — along with his wife —  the now sadly closed Volcanic Tongue record emporium which also served as a distribution company and record label. Volcanic Tongue was so legendary in alternative music circles that the British Library recently harvested its entire online output of over two million words for posterity.

We wish to extend to David our deepest and most sincere thanks for sharing his time with us, and for such a fabulous interview — which you can now view below.

Enjoy!

Books by David


This is Memorial Device : an hallucinated oral history of the post-punk scene in Airdrie, Coatbridge and environs 1978-1986
“David Keenan’s debut novel is a love letter to the small towns of Lanarkshire in the west of Scotland in the late 1970s and early 80s as they were temporarily transformed by the endless possibilities that came out of the freefall from punk rock.” (Catalogue)

For the good times
“Sammy and his three friends live in the Ardoyne, an impoverished, predominantly Catholic area of North Belfast that has become the epicentre of a country intent on cannibalising itself. They love sharp clothes, a good drink, and the songs of Perry Como – whose commitment to clean living holds up a dissonant mirror to their own attempts to rise above their circumstances. They dream of a Free State, and their methods for achieving this are uncompromising, even as they fully indulge in the spoils of war. Keen to make a difference, the boys find themselves in the incongruous position of running a comic-book shop taken over by the IRA.” (Catalogue)

England’s hidden reverse : a secret history of the esoteric underground : Coil, Current 93, Nurse With Wound
“An obsessively researched biography of the three seminal music groups Coil, Current 93, and Nurse With Wound that also illuminates the history of the English underground scene.” (Catalogue)

As well as:

  • Xstabeth
  • The Towers The Fields The Transmitters
  • To run wild in it: A handbook of Autonomic Tarot with Sophie Hollington
  • Monument Maker (Forthcoming in June)

Books mentioned

Below are just a few of the many books David mentions in the interview:


Cities of the red night / Burroughs, William S.
“While young men wage war against an evil empire of zealous mutants, the population of this modern inferno is afflicted with the epidemic of a radioactive virus. An opium-infused apocalyptic vision from the legendary author of Naked Lunch is the first of the trilogy with The Places of the Dead Roads and his final novel, The Western Plains.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The man in the high castle / Dick, Philip K
“The United States has lost World War II and subsequently been divided between the Germans in the east and the Japanese in the west. In this world, we meet  Frank Frink, a dealer of counterfeit Americana, Nobusuke Tagomi, the Japanese trade minister in San Francisco, and Juliana Frink, Frank’s ex-wife, who may be more important than she realizes. These seemingly disparate characters gradually realize their connections to one another other just as they realize that something is not quite right about their world. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 

Kidnapped / Stevenson, Robert Louis
“On a stormy night off the coast of Scotland, young David Balfour faces his most terrifying test yet. He’s been double-crossed by his wicked uncle, tricked into a sea voyage, and sold into slavery. When the dashing Alan Breck Stewart comes aboard, he finds a brave friend at least, and the pair fight back against their treacherous, blackhearted shipmates. But then the ship hits a reef, it’s every man for himself, and David must battle against the raging sea itself” (Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Shakedown / Dicks, Terrance
“A classic novel starring the seventh Doctor and the Sontarans, back in print For thousands of years the Sontarans and the Rutans have fought a brutal war across the galaxy. Now the Sontarans have a secret plan to destroy the Rutan race — a secret plan the Doctor is racing against time to uncover. Only one Rutan spy knows the Sontarans’ plan. As he is chased through the galaxy in a desperate bid for his life, he reaches the planet Sentarion — where Professor Bernice Summerfield’s research into the history of the Sontaran-Rutan war is turning into an explosive reality.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

I, robot / Asimov, Isaac
” In these stories Isaac Asimov creates the Three Laws of Robotics and ushers in the Robot Age. Earth is ruled by master-machines but the Three Laws of Robotics have been designed to ensure humans maintain the upper hand: 1) A robot may not injure a human being or allow a human being to come to harm. 2) A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. But what happens when a rogue robot’s idea of what is good for society contravenes the Three Laws?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Desolation angels / Kerouac, Jack
 Originally published in 1965, this autobiographical novel covers a key year in Jack Kerouac’s life–the period that led up to the publication of On the Road in September of 1957. After spending two months in the summer of 1956 as a fire lookout on Desolation Peak in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington, Kerouac’s fictional self Jack Duluoz comes down from the isolated mountains to the wild excitement of the bars, jazz clubs, and parties of San Francisco, before traveling on to Mexico City, New York, Tangiers, Paris, and London. Duluoz attempts to extricate himself from the world but fails, for one must “live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.” Desolation Angels is quintessential Kerouac.” (Catalogue)

Arthur Rimbaud : complete works / Rimbaud, Arthur
” The complete works of the French poet I1854-1891)  whose works  pre figured surrealism and whose influence on modern culture remains huge. Rimbaud produced the vast bulk of his works in adolescence famously quitting writing literature at age 20. A restless explorer who lived life to the full in all senses of the word both personally and physically. He is credited as being the precursor to modernist literature, who works remain vibrant and vital. ” ( Adapted from Catalogue).

The hero with a thousand faces / Campbell, Joseph
“In these pages, Campbell outlines the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions. He also explores the Cosmogonic Cycle, the mythic pattern of world creation and destruction. As part of the Joseph Campbell Foundation’s Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, this third edition features expanded illustrations, a comprehensive bibliography, and more accessible sidebars. As relevant today as when it was first published — and continues to inspire all those interested in the inherent human need to tell stories.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Songbooks at Te Awe

Calling all musicians and aficionados of musical theatre! Did you know that we have a collection of Songbooks at our newest Central City branch, Te Awe Library on Brandon Street?

Before Central closed, it was home to a large collection of Songbooks and music Scores. These are all now available to reserve from our warehouse. But if you would like to browse some Songbooks in person, you can find them upstairs at Te Awe, nestled amongst the CD collection, and next to the music magazines. There is a great selection of songs held there including, rock, pop, standards, musicals, folk, and movie songs, with instructions for piano, vocal and guitar.

You can find our Te Awe branch just off Lambton Quay at 29 Brandon Street, or you can enter from Panama Street. In addition to the Songbooks and CDs upstairs, you will find young adult books, non-fiction and Māori books, DVDs and Blu-ray. On the ground floor there are magazines, a children’s area, adult fiction, large print, audiobooks, bestsellers, and a café! So take a look today!

Wellington electro acoustic trio live

Part one Feat Ross Harris, Steve Burridge and Neil Johnstone.

Arts laureate and New Zealand classical composer Ross Harris is regarded widely as one of the leading musical lights of his generation. In his time he has worn and still wears many musical hats : – from teaching at Victoria University, to Tuba playing, being the regular accordion player with the phenomenal Klezmer outfit The Kugels.  And in the past has dived deep into the World of electro acoustic music esp. with the iconic eighties outfit The Free Radicals with fellow sonic explorer Jonathan Besser.

Click here to hear an interview with Ross talking about his days in the Free Radicals and what it was like to be an electronic musical pioneer in the 1980’s.

These days Ross can be seen regularly playing Klezmer with The Kugels or in the audience at the Michael Fowler listening to one of his classical compositions being played but very rarely does he perform in the Electro acoustic World so when we were offered the chance to record an ultra-rare live performance of Ross playing experimental accordion at an electroacoustic gig at  the launch of poet Janis Freegard’s latest poetry collection Reading the Signs we jumped at it  .

So below our exclusive video of Ross Harris playing with Steve Burridge and Neil Johnstone from the Album Shearwater Drift featuring the above and also  ngā taonga pūoro player Al Fraser. Enjoy.

Part Two feat Steve Burridge and Neil Johnstone. 


Shearwater drift / Fraser, Alistair
“Shearwater Drift is a vast sonic collage that explores real and imagined landscapes.Over 18 tracks,it features Taongo Puoro within soundscapes created by synthesisers, percussion, treated samples and other instruments that is not an easy listen, at times it can be quite eerie, but the dark and ethereal ambient atmosphere is the perfect vehicle by which the mystery of these ancient instruments can be experienced.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Symphony no. 5 ; Violin concerto / Harris, Ross
“Ross Harris’s Symphony No.5 uses as its core poems by Panni Palasti.  The moving poems in the piece are based on the personal experiences of the poet during World War Two and the subsequent Hungarian Revolution. The work creates complex orchestral movements around these poems. This particular recording has conductor Eckehard Steir steering the orchestra and he judges well the balance between the moments of ferocity and the work’s sonic ebb and flow.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Free Radicals / Free Radicals (Musical group)
“Wellington based Free Radicals :-Ross Harris and Jonathan Besser were active in the early 80s, described by one reviewer as ‘Eno meets industrial punk meets Stockhausen’. This compilation of archival recordings show the full range, scope and ambition of the pioneering outfit.” ( adapted from Catalogue.)

Requiem for the fallen / Harris, Ross
“Requiem for the fallen honours the memory of soldiers who died in the First World War. Poetry by Vincent O’Sullivan is woven through the Latin of the Requiem Mass and carries many homespun New Zealand references. Horomona Horo’s taonga pūoro improvisations add a haunting beauty that could only be from Aotearoa (New Zealand)” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Cathedral / Besser, Jonathan
“Cathedral is a recording of a concert originally performed live in 1984 in front of an audience wearing eye masks, and this re issue includes one new track called “Ruins (2084)”. And features Jonathan Besser playing on Dunedin’s St Paul’s Cathedral pipe organ and Greg Fox on electric guitar and treatments. The work is an innovative, immersive, atmospheric and ambient piece.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Ponguru / Fraser, Alistair
“Ponguru is a truly unique album fusing seamlessly the sonic worlds of acclaimed jazz bassist Phil Boniface and leading Nga Taonga Puoro player Al Fraser . The resulting album has many faces and facets its Jazz tinged rather than Jazz, ambient in places and like a complex sonic landscape in others, throughout all its pieces it’s always fiercely original , rewarding and hugely atmospheric. Phil’s bass work is of the highest calibre imbuing the whole piece with a core of beautiful rhythmic structure. And Al’s emotive, nuanced playing shows that he is rightfully regarded as one of the finest musicians working in NZ today.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Toitū te pūoro. / Fraser, Alistair
Al Fraser, the Wellington musician and instrument maker takes the listener on a deep, dreamlike and evocative journey into the mysterious, mystical and unique sound worlds created by the ancient taonga puoro.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Reading the Signs / Freegard, Janis
Reading the Signs is Janis Freegard’s most recent poetry collection. The work is a prose poetry sequence which explores our inner and outer world’s through various means such as divination and the rich diversity of life as viewed through a poet as biological scientist lens. The core themes behind this often humorous but also serious collection are loss and recovery, climate change and gender fluidity not to mention spiders, piglets and Tasseography (tea leaf reading) . The publication includes accompanying art works by Neil Johnstone” ( Adapted from catalogue)

Free Radicals: An interview with Ross Harris

Free Radicals were a Wellington-based art music duo active in the early 80s, described by one reviewer as ‘Eno meets industrial punk meets Stockhausen’.

“The music of Free Radicals still, years later, sounds like no other, two experimental classical composers using technology developed primarily for pop music.” – Elizabeth Kerr

Free Radicals is one of four inaugural releases to mark the launch of a new Rattle Records imprint, Rattle Echo. This new label will present New Zealand art-music recordings from the past that have either never been commercially released or made available digitally, or that simply deserve to be more widely known.

Free Radicals were a Wellington-based art music ensemble that offered an outlet for the creative musical sensibilities of Ross Harris and Jonathan Besser in the early 80s. Ross and Jonathan recorded their music together in the electronic music studio at Victoria University of Wellington, which was established and run by Douglas Lilburn. It was a room fitted out with multi-track tape recorders, filters, ring modulators, and a classic reverberation plate mounted in one of the walls. Their initial recordings involved basic sound transforming techniques, such as speed changes, pitch shifts, cutting and splicing tape, and feeding sounds through various effects. They sought to create sounds that were of New Zealand by incorporating and manipulating environmental sounds into their recordings, but they also worked with voltage-controlled synthesizers such as the Putney VCS3 and 2 Synthi A.

In previous years, such machines were clock-synced, but in 1983 a new industry standard called MIDI appeared on the scene, which enabled a sophisticated connection and control of audio technologies that is still in use today. Machines such as the Roland TR-606, TR-303, and JX3P seduced the duo into creating rock-influenced textures and sequences to improvise over. Jonathan added a Roland RS 202 Keyboard, which brought string and organ sounds to their palette. Pre-recorded tapes of voices and industrial sounds were often added, but the creative possibilities increased dramatically in 1985 with the addition of The Drumulator (the most advanced drum machine at that time) and the Ensoniq Mirage, a “sampling” unit that enabled any sound to be recorded then played back at different pitches across the length of a triggering keyboard. In performance, everything (including voices) was processed through AKS synthesizers to produce often barely controllable chaos, which, in essence, was one of the defining characters of the Free Radicals.