Staff Picks: The Best DVDs of 2021

Here we have the very best DVDs of 2021, as selected by our own WCL librarians. All of these titles are available to loan!

Mark’s Picks:
Mare of Easttown
What more can you say about this great show that hasn’t already been said? A fantastically nuanced TV role from Kate Winslet, that embedded itself into the cultural zeitgeist of 2021. In a suburb of Philadelphia, Winslet plays Mare Sheehan, a former local basketball hero whose last minute shot won a State Championship, and who is now – 25 years later – a beleaguered police detective investigating the recent murder of a teenage mother, while also trying to balance the demands of her multi-generational family, the failure to solve an ongoing cold case of a missing girl, and a personal life that is fraying at the edges. The mechanics of the mystery itself are fairly conventional, with its ‘Dead girl-small town suspicions’ plot, but by focusing the story around the complicated family life & personal struggles of Winslet’s main character, it add layers not often found in other shows of the same ilk. Or sometimes found, but only in the lives of the male lead characters.

Synchronic
Every year throws up some interesting low-budget indie sci-fi, and from 2021 we had ‘Synchronic’ from Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson (Spring, The Endless). Anthony Mackie & Jamie Dornan are Steve & Dennis, paramedics in New Orleans, who begin to get call outs to a series of strange incidents where people are either dead in bizarre circumstances, or have wild, incoherent, stories to explain their injuries. All the cases are linked to a new designer drug called Synchronic, and the incidents become personal when Dennis’ daughter is identified as missing from one of the scenes where someone died from taking the drug. Steve attempts to track down the source of the drug, leading to an encounter with the drugs creator – who tells him Synchronic has some unique side effects…To say any more would spoil the plot of this intriguing, low-key sci-fi. Another example in a line of films with minimal characters, effects, or locations (Time Lapse, Coherence, Primer etc). that chooses to focus on ideas rather than explosions.

Nobody
Every year also throws up some ridiculous, yet hugely entertaining, action flick, and last year’s was ‘Nobody’. Directed by Russian director Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry) and written by Derek Kolstad (creator of the John Wick franchise) sees Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul) play Hutch Mansell, a seemingly average middle aged office worker. However, much like John Wick, Hutch is not the mild-mannered guy he is pretending to be, and when his frustrations with his hum-drum life and a recent home-robbery boil over, he ‘helps out’ a young woman on a bus being harassed by a gang of thugs. This, however, only causes him to become the target of a vengeful Russian drug lord, and what follows is a hugely entertaining action-fest full of bonkers violence, absurdly entertaining scenes, and a good deal of tongue in cheek self-awareness. This works in the same way the first Taken worked, as Odenkirk seems the last actor to be believable as a ruthless killing machine, just as Liam Neeson initially was. Tons of fun. (Mark)

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Staff Picks: The Best CDs of 2021

Image featuring some of our top picks


Mark’s Pick:
Vulture prince. / Aftab, Arooj [VINYL ONLY]
“Vulture Prince” is the third album from Brooklyn-based Pakistani composer Arooj Aftab. It made ‘Best of the Year’ picks even halfway through last year, and has been pressed on Vinyl 3 times since it came out last April – all of which sold out almost instantly. It’s critical & commercial success led to her being nominated for two Grammys, Best New Artist and Best Global Music Performance, as well as being signed to major label, Verve Records. An amazing sounding album, a mixture of chamber jazz, Hindustani classical minimalism & neo-Sufi, centered around her crystal clear voice. A truly beautiful and haunting work.

Mother. / Sol, Cleo
There was a lot of Neo-soul this year. A lot. I listened to a good percentage of it, and Cleo Sol’s ‘Mother’ was the best of the bunch. A mellow, tender, beautifully sung homage to motherhood. These lovely delicate songs have a real sense of intimacy, and at times the minimalist production from partner Inflo (who was recently announced as Producer of the Year in 2022’s Brit awards) makes you feel you are hearing a bunch of personal demos that were never meant to be shared.

Lindsey Buckingham. / Buckingham, Lindsey
The ex-Fleetwood Mac-er returns with a delayed album – originally cut in 2018. It is perhaps his most ‘pop’ outing and most FM sounding solo album yet. Mirage-era stylings, double tracked vocals, and catchy choruses surround a set of songs that focus on band & domestic disharmonies. Few artists of his generation can claim to be still making music this strong.

 

Shinji’s Pick’s:
Mother. / Sol, Cleo
A member of the London’s avant-soul unit ‘Sault’, Cleo Sol’s sophomore album is a reflection of herself having become a mother during the pandemic. It’s an intimate affair featuring medium/slow soul ballads. Surrounded by the warm, tender arrangements, her voice is charming and graceful.

 

Nine. / Sault 
Sault’ also released another edgy album ‘NINE’ – more personal than previous albums but black proud and social justice are still its core. The both are a must-listen.

 

 

What we call life. / Rakei, Jordan
The Tokoroa-born, sweet-sounding soul singer Jordan Rakei steadily developes his style with every outing. This latest album from Ninja Tune takes us on an intimate, emotional journey, showing his mutuality both as an artist and a person. His dance/house project Dan Kye’s ‘Small Moments’ (Vinyl only) is also quite good.

 

Harbour. / Herskedal, Daniel
Tuba is usually not considered a lead instrument, but the Norwegian tubaist Daniel Herkedal has made his mark as an outstanding player and band leader. Nature often inspires his works, in this album his trio brilliantly transforms images of Norwegian seaside into their music. You can feel a combination of warmth and cool air in the rich, open soundscapes that they create. Akin to ECM, it’s a sublime jazz album.

Phantasmagoria, or, A different kind of journey / Aarset, Eivind
Norwegian jazz guitarist Eivind Aarset is a master of creating inventive sonic layers and tonal richness. Aarset’s new album finds him in superb form. Showing impressive range, from the gentle ambient tracks to the eccentric guitar improvised prog-rock, it offers a sophisticated, expansive musical journey.

Becca Stevens & the Secret Trio. / Stevens, Becca
The ‘jazzy but not quite jazz’ singer Becca Stevens has worked with numerous artists, including David Crosby for his brilliant ‘Here If You Listen’. Her new project with the Secret Trio, who’s roots range from  Turkish to Armenian and Macedonian, offers a unique hybrid music of folk, jazz and world music. This work gets better with every listen.

 

The eternal rocks beneath. / Priddy, Katherine
Praised by the likes of Richard Thompson and Vashti Bunyan, young English folk singer Katherine Priddy debuted with an exceptional album. Showing her love of Nick Drake, her songs are alluring. The band supports marvellously, but it is her captivating voice that takes your breath away. Everything is so natural here, a promising a star is about to be born.

 

Invisible cities = Le città invisibili / Winged Victory for the Sullen
The 2021 album from this ambient duo is a collaboration with a theatre production, directed by London Olympics ceremony video designer Leo Warner. The show, in turn, was is based on Italo Calvino’s classic novel ‘Invisible Cities’. This duo, once again, has created a stunning score which masterfully weaves the medieval feeling into the ethereal, ambient soundscape. Sublime.

 

Déjà vu [deluxe] / Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
[Box set/re-issue]
The 1970 original album climbed up to No.1 and stayed 88 weeks in the USA top 100 charts. In 2021, this iconic masterpiece finally got a deluxe edition (4CDs + 1LP). Including 38 tracks of demos and outtakes, a lot of tracks here have never been released before and, as well as this, they prove how genius these musicians are. The Laurel Canyon community also must have stimulated their creativity, which is evident in the intriguing documentary ‘Laurel Canyon’.

Kid A mnesia / Radiohead
[Box set/re-issue]
The 21st century opened with this revolutionary music. ‘Kid A’ (2000) and ‘Amnesiac’ (2001) were recorded together but issued a year apart. This re-issue offers previously unreleased tracks on the third disc, which is fascinating. Their bold creative mojo and exceptional talent made Radiohead a one-and-only supergroup. 20 years on, they are still standing tall.

Aretha. / Franklin, Aretha
Aretha Franklin, the ‘Queen of Soul’, had a career which spanned 6 decades, and this smartly compiled box set should be welcomed by both dedicated fans and novices to her music. It’s almost an ideal ‘best album’ of her music, and would be a wonderful accompaniment to the nice biographical film ‘Respect’.

 

Neil J’s Pick’s:
Promises / Floating Points
This is my person pick for best of 2021. Many albums strive to be as beautifully mellow and profoundly intense. They nearly always fail to some degree or another. This album is as close to perfection as I have heard in many a year, an outstanding masterpiece that will rightly regarded as such long after 2021 is a distant memory. Recorded over the course of five years, this album is a hybrid of ambient, free-form jazz and classical. The result is an album that is elegant, refined, and full of quiet moments of sonic beauty. Although it is an experimental album, it’s an exceptionally balanced, considered, and timeless work. To really appreciate it, a relaxed deep listen is highly recommended. A perfect way to unwind from the rigors of the day.

Nine. / Sault
The enigmatic and mysterious music collective Sault release another vital album. Unsurprisingly as an ever-changing music collective, there is a rich tapestry of sounds and approaches in ‘Nine’. The overall effect though feels totally unified and coherent. The tracks are urban, dark, and edgy with real grit. In the mix there are elements of rap, grime Afro Beat and even some Tom Tom’s club’s style funk. The content of the album is largely about growing up in modern London. This is a fresh and surprising album, stunning in its contemporary urgency.

Geist. / Lay, Shannon
Shannon Lay’s Geist is a deliberately wistful, transcendent, and spiritual album. Lay uses multi tracked choral vocals with a constantly flowing, and evolving acoustic guitar as its core. The effect is distinctive, expressive, quiet, and lovely. An evocative pastoral psychedelic folk work reminiscent of artists like Vashti Bunyan, I particularly enjoyed her cover of Syd Barrett’s ‘Late night’.

 

Buda / Buda, Luke
One of the core creative forces behind the mighty The Phoenix Foundation releases (with a lot of help from his friends) his third solo effort, this time simply called Buda. It is an impressive work, interspersed with a lot of the hallmark touches he brings to his other work in The Phoenix foundation. This album is wryly funny, poetic, serious when it needs to be and shows us why he is one of our finest musicians.

Black sea golden ladder. / Kingi, Troy
The supremely gifted musical chameleon that is Troy Kingi has shown his musical versatility over several wonderful albums on several occasions in recent years, but who would have thought that his latest musical incarnation would be as a mellow folk maestro? The resulting album is a beautiful, and chilled outing, like watching the sun go down on the fragile dream of a late autumn day. Delaney Davidson’s voice adds just a little grit and darkness to the proceedings.

M’berra / Khalab
This is one of those album’s that really transports the listener to new worlds. It is a collaborative work between electronic Italian D.J. Khalab and the M’berra Ensemble, a community of musicians living in the M’berra refugee camp. The resulting album, both ancient and futuristic, is a breath-taking work of fantastically sculptured tracks and diverse sounds, featuring a dazzling array of instruments from traditional Mali instruments to synth bass’s and guitar.

Bright green field. / Squid (Musical group)
An album of angular music, coupled with angry off kilter lyrics that illuminate the song writers’ discomfort with the modern World. In places, it sounds slightly reminiscent of an early English, pre-Eno, Talking Heads. Seemingly unconcerned about creating a single musical identity, they use whatever style suits that particular track from throwing in punk, krautrock, dub, jazz, and funk into this potent mix of an album.

New long leg. / Dry Cleaning (Musical group)
I really loved this album, it sounded new and fresh and vitally edgy. Managing to sound quirky, surreal, approachable and experimental all at the same time, is it a release I strongly suspect will be on lots of best of 2021 lists.

 

 

The new blue : Pixie Williams reimagined.
Pixie Williams was one of the first ever superstars of the New Zealand music scene. She was a trailblazing pioneer; her song ‘Blue smoke’ was a huge international hit in 1951 covered by many artists, including Dean Martin. A compilation of her work was recently rescued from oblivion, called For the record : the Pixie Williams collection, 1949-1951, and was rereleased in 2011. ‘The New Blue’ is a collection of modern NZ artists paying tribute to her and her art, covering her best known pieces fabulously well with style and panache. This is a perfectly executed, modern nostalgic time machine of an album.

Optimisme. / Songhoy Blues
Crossing musical and cultural boundaries at will, ‘Optimisme’ is a joyous explosion of an album. Driving percussion and scorching guitar riffs come together with political, social and personal lyrics that are sung in several languages and never sound laboured or preachy. The music is exhilarating and unstoppable, you cannot but help feel that many huge stadium acts would be jealous and in awe of the energy pouring out of this release.

 

Gus’ Picks:
The blue elephant. / Berry, Matt
Something I can only describe as “what if Tame Impala travelled back in time and did an album with the Kinks”. Hands down the best summer album of 2021.
Favourite track: Summer Sun

 

 

Skin. / Crookes, Joy
A polished, bold debut neo-soul album for anyone with an Amy Winehouse-sized hole in their heart.
Favourite track: Feet Don’t Fail Me Now

 

 

Prioritise pleasure. / Self Esteem
A pop solo act that goes big and goes hard one minute and becomes a tender pick-me-up the next. Everyone could use a little Self Esteem boost.
Favourite track: Prioritise Pleasure

 

 

Jubilee. / Japanese Breakfast
An eclectic album of 80s city pop, soft ballads, and dreamy croons. A balanced breakfast indeed.
Favourite track: Paprika

 

 

Call me if you get lost. / Tyler, the Creator
No-one quite nails the feeling unique to creatives of alternating triumph and melancholy quite like Tyler Baudelaire, aka Bunny Hop, aka Wolf Haley etc. etc. Call Me If You Get Lost is more of a fun mixtape jam session than the more emotionally introspective albums of his recent output, and while it took me a while to appreciate, by the end of 2021 it became a staple of my playlists.
Favourite track: CORSO

Dune : original motion picture soundtrack
The space bagpipes must flow! I, for one, am always up for a eardrum rattling from the Zimmer Man, and Dune does not disappoint. Combining electrified strings, throat singing, epic brass, Middle Eastern choirs and the aforementioned space bagpipes, this score truly worthy of a space epic.
Favourite track: Armada

 

Yasuke : music from the Netflix original anime series
With the anime Yasuke, Flying Lotus finally gets to lend his unique blend of hip hop and electronica to scoring an animated series, and he succeeds immensely. As Samurai Champloo creator (and one-time FlyLo collaborator) Shinichiro Watanabe proved, there’s something about blending hip hop and samurai that just works.
Favourite track: Your Day Off

 

Han’s Picks:
L.A.B. V. / L. A. B
Another awesome album from L.A.B, with songs that are funky, chilled out and make you automatically feel free and summery. Favourite tracks on this album are: ‘Under The Sun’, with it’s country twang and catchy chorus, ‘All Night’, which brings the groove and makes you want to dance and their latest smooth sounding single ‘Mr Reggae’.

 

Little oblivions. / Baker, Julien
An emotional outpouring of deep and self-loathing lyrics ,with a voice that is raw, vulnerable and magical, makes for a brilliant third solo album from Julien Baker.

 

 

Sour. / Rodrigo, Olivia
If you have ever had your heart broken and not been sure of yourself, then you will easily relate to the lyrics on this album. Songs like ‘Traitor’ and ‘Happier’ convey familiar feelings of being hurt by relationships breaking down. ‘Brutal’, the first track, is probably the best with all of her thoughts and annoyances with life on display in a snarly pop punk style. Very impressive debut album from this new pop superstar.

 

OK human. / Weezer
This is Weezer in a completely different form, with none of the guitar sound that is associated with the band. Instead, they have opted for an orchestral sound, which is new for them and definitely works as a change. The opening track ‘All My Favourite Songs’ is brilliant and the chorus is incredibly catchy and anthemic. ‘Grapes of Wrath’ is a big advert for Audible, but I don’t mind it as I like all the book references in that track. These songs were written during the pandemic and as a result are extremely relatable.

Van Weezer. / Weezer
In contrast to Ok Human, Van Weezer brings all the guitars back for a more familiar Weezer sound. On the track ‘The End of the Game’, the lyrics are “I know that you would crank this song, air guitaring with your headphones on”’ and it definitely makes me want to do that. So, turn it up and have some fun jumping up and down to this homage to Van Halen!

 

Greg’s Pick:
Leave love out of this. / Tonnon, Anthonie
If you don’t have children, you rely on friends and colleagues to recommend new music to you. This was recommended to me by Martin. This is pop music with social, political and economic messages woven easily and naturally through the lyrics. The title track was nominated for the 2021 Silver Scroll Award.

 

Joseph’s Pick’s:
Godzone. / Sulfate
[VINYL ONLY]
Godzone by Sulfate was a local standout for me.

 

 

 

Martin’s Pick:
Leave love out of this. / Tonnon, Anthonie
A strange mixture. This album sounds like a cross between Ultravox and Gary Numan with some distinctly New Zealand social commentary thrown in. In some ways the music is reminiscent of simple 80’s synth, which I like, but it is also the use of his voice that grabs the attention. It is at both very unmelodic almost banal, but with great range and control. It doesn’t sound, from what I have said, to be so good does it? But it is! It’s interesting, mostly uplifting and overall a joy to listen to. It’s different and fresh and I think positive, which is a rare thing in these times.

Mikaela’s Pick’s:
Jubilee. / Japanese Breakfast

 

 

 

 


Charlotte’s Picks:
Collapsed in sunbeams. / Parks, Arlo
Chemtrails over the country club. / Del Rey, Lana
In these silent days. / Carlile, Brandi
Valentine. / Snail Mail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Neil P’s Picks:
De pelicula / Limiñanas
Earth trip. / Rose City Band
Comfort to me. / Amyl and the Sniffers
Afrique victime. / Moctar, Mdou
Yol. / Altın Gün
Henki / Dawson, Richard
La Luz. / La Luz
Sometimes I might be introvert. / Little Simz
Introducing… Aaron Frazer. / Frazer, Aaron
Invisible cities = Le città invisibili / Winged Victory for the Sullen
Genesis. / Xixa
Forest of your problems. / Snapped Ankles
Black sea golden ladder. / Kingi, Troy
Pale horse rider. / Hanson, Cory
Geist. / Lay, Shannon


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staff Pick Films – Kanopy & Beamafilm

A selection of Staff Picks movies and documentaries from our website’s DVD pages; these films are all now available on the library’s two online streaming platforms, Beamafilm & Kanopy.

Herb & Dorothy – Beamafilm
You cannot dislike this. Herb is a postal worker, Dorothy is a librarian in New York City and they are art collectors – very serious contemporary art collectors. Who would think that this ordinary (and not cool) looking couple owned more than 4000 pieces of art works mostly minimal or conceptual arts? Amazingly these variable works are somehow stored in their cramped one room apartment where they live with turtles, goldfish and a cat. They have no proper ‘Art’ education, but when this couple face art works, their eyes start glowing and get very serious as if they are hunting dogs. Their collection became so significant it was gifted to the national Gallery of Art (so they are not for money). It is an obsessive passion but utterly charming. Above all, this is the story of this extraordinary couple who complement each other. (Shinji)

The white ribbon – Beamafilm
‘The White Ribbon’ is another subversive jewel in the aloof crown of Michael Haneke, disturbed creator of other choice picks Hidden, The piano teacher and the nicely bleak The seventh Continent. It’s shot beautifully in black and white, the acting is unobtrusively spot-on and the narrative offers gradual hints that build real force and tension. To complete the compellingly grim picture I must list the themes that make one squirm – the destruction of innocence, the abuse of parental power, fascism in its many forms, violence and death. ‘The White Ribbon’ creeps its way into your subconscious and despite your best mental efforts, lingers. Scene by scene, I had the strong sense that I was involved in something significant. You may want to watch this film again. (Monty)

Scott Walker: 30 century man – Beamafilm
I enjoy music docos and have recently found a new stash of them at the end of the CD aisles under ‘Music Biographies’. There are some goodies there, one of which is this excellent film about Scott Walker. The penny finally dropped for me as to why he is considered by so many to be a living legend. His journey from 60’s pop icon, as one of the Walker Brothers, to reclusive avant-garde sound sculptor is explored and held together with excerpts from Walker’s first agreed to interview in thirty years. This is a peek inside the creative mind and it is fascinating to glimpse, amongst other things, the humour that accompanies the creation of such intense songwriting – that is if you happen to agree with Walker that his creations can actually be called songs. (John)

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Phantom National Poetry Day: Librarians’ Picks

Today is Phantom National Poetry Day – a one-day national poetry extravaganza to celebrate the poetry of Aotearoa. We’re always in the mood for poetry and we love the opportunity to revisit old favourites and discover new gems. Here, our librarians have shared some of their picks:

Celeste’s Pick:
Big weather : poems of Wellington
“Since the nineteenth century, Wellington has been the site and object of much literary activity and never more so than now. Where many of New Zealand’s leading poets once wandered, frequenting bars, delivering mail up the steepest of streets, raising their children in the suburbs, today’s XY generation are now vividly, energetically present, and recent poetry has kept track of the changing inner and outer life of the city. BIG WEATHER: Poems of Wellington captures the vivacity and diversity of the capital.” (adapted from catalogue)

Fiona’s Pick:
Other animals / Lloyd, Therese
“Focused on the theme of a well-lived life, Other Animals is the powerful and provocative first book from one of New Zealand’s most exciting new poets. With a uniquely lyrical voice, these works find their ways towards ideas of beauty, wisdom, and, ultimately, to a sense of joy in the world that only poetry can bring.” (Catalogue)

 

Susannah’s Pick:
Cat world : poems on cats / Jeune, Margaret
“Cat World by Margaret Jeune is a collection of poems about cats drawn from the author’s personal experiences as a cat owner and carer over many years.” (Catalogue)

This is Susannah’s cat Kedi, who is not included in the collection but who seconds Susannah’s purrrrfect choice.


Paige’s Pick:

Head girl / Sadgrove, Freya Daly
“‘The first time I read Freya’s work I thought . . . uh oh. And then I thought, you have got to be kidding me. And then I thought, God dammit. And then I walked around the house shaking my head thinking . . . OK – alright. And then – finally – I thought, well well well – like a smug policeman. Listen – she’s just the best. I’m going to say this so seriously. She is, unfortunately, the absolute best. Trying to write a clever blurb for her feels like an insult to how right and true and deadly this collection is. God, she’s just so good. She kills me always, every time, and forever.’ -Hera Lindsay Bird” (adapted from catalogue)

Alex’s Pick:
Under glass / Kan, Gregory
“A dialogue between a series of prose poems, following a protagonist through a mysterious and threatening landscape, and a series of verse poems, driven by the speaker’s compulsive hunger to make sense of things”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)
Also available on Libby as an eBook.

 

Gábor’s Pick:
Postscripts / Sturm, J. C
J. C. Sturm was the writing name of Jacquie Baxter who for many years was the New Zealand Room librarian at the old Wellington Central Library. Postscripts is Sturm’s second book of poetry after Dedications (1996), though her work had appeared in numerous anthologies and journals as far back as 1947. Her poems cover a wide range of human experience, are often compelling, largely autobiographical and sometimes have a profoundly emotional impact as she reviews a life of loss and love, youth and age as seen from both Māori and Pakeha perspectives.

Neil’s Pick:
Reading the signs / Freegard, Janis
“The poems in Janis Freegard’s new collection take their starting point from the poet’s daily ritual of reading the tea leaves while writing in the Ema Saiko room in the Wairarapa. Reading the Signs is a series of linked poems that are thoughtful and humorous, provocative and tender, and come together as a quiet epic about a planet that is fast running out of puff.” (adapted from catalogue)

 

Steph’s Pick: (an old favourite and a new favourite, because choosing only one is impossible)
Fast talking PI / Marsh, Selina Tusitala
“‘Tusitala’ means writer of tales in Samoan, and Marsh here lives up to her name with stories of her life, her family, community, ancestry, and history. Her poetry is sensuous and strong, using lush imagery, clear rhythms and repetitions to power it forward. Her work deals specifically with issues that affect Pacific communities in New Zealand and indigenous peoples elsewhere, most recently focusing on the challenges and triumphs of being afakasi.” (adapted from the catalogue) – Also available on Libby as an eBook.

The savage coloniser book / Avia, Tusiata
“The voices of Tusiata Avia are infinite. She ranges from vulnerable to forbidding to celebratory with forms including pantoums, prayers and invocations. And in this electrifying new work, she gathers all the power of her voice to speak directly into histories of violence. The Savage Coloniser Book is a personal and political reckoning. As it holds history accountable, it rises in power.” (adapted from catalogue)

 

Special Mention:
Our very own poetry publication, Tūhono, is full of poems written by children and young adults of Pōneke on the theme of tūhono – connection, and we could all do with more of that right now. Find this heart-warming collection on Libby, there are 500(!) available to lend.

Tūhono. a journal of poetry by children and teens / 2020 :
“Tūhono : connection. This is the theme that binds together all 197 poems you are about to read, which were contributed by young Wellington writers aged 5-18 and collected by Wellington City Libraries throughout the month of November 2020. The year 2020 was challenging for many people. Some had to spend time apart from their friends and the people they love. Some had to find ways to live with uncertainty and the sense that everything might not be okay in the world. But taken together, these poems represent a constellation of thoughts, ideas, worries, anxieties, hopes, loves, and dreams about how we find ways to connect, even in the face of adversity.” (Catalogue)

Staff Picks DVDs

Here is a mix of old and new movies (and a TV show) from our DVD shelves, storage facility, and online-streaming services, that Staff have been enjoying recently.

A beautiful day in the neighbourhood
It’s a Biographical film of Mister Rogers the American TV host of the pre-school television series Mr Rogers. A good yarn of a film with a feel-good factor about kindness, love, and forgiveness. (Maxine)

 

 

It Must Be Heaven
The Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman stars himself in his first feature in ten years and goes out from his homeland Nazareth to Paris and New York as ‘a citizen of the world’. He plays a film director but no one shows the interest in his film just like Palestrina has been often ignored from the rest of the world. The film implies serious messages, but with a touch of Jacques Tati and the unique Swedish maestro Roy Andersson, Suleiman makes it a minimal yet playful comedy. A droll gem. (Shinji)

Rams
Starring Michael Caton and Sam Neill. Marketed as a comedy, this movie is actually the heartbreaking tale of two brothers on neighbouring farms, who have not spoken a civil word in 40 years. Faced with the catastrophic outbreak of disease in the region, and savage bushfires, they are forced to work together to save their tiny flock of rare-breed sheep. (Kath)

 

Dogfight
This largely unknown little gem from 1991 tells a story of an unlikely but lovely one-night stand. Set in San Francisco in the mid-60s, it unfolds when U.S marines hold a big party before being sent to Vietnam. Featuring brilliant, flesh-and-blood performances by Lili Taylor and River Phoenix, the director Nancy Savoca sensitively crafts a sweet, moving affair. Soundtracks from the 60s folk music including Bob Dylan and Odetta make it even more memorable. (Shinji)

 

Capricorn One.
Another classic 70s deep state conspiracy thriller, along the lines of The Parallax View. Due to an immanent systems failure ‘Capricorn One’ – the first crewed mission to Mars – blasts off without its crew. Another failed space mission would result in NASA’s funding being cut and private contractors losing millions in profits, so the astronauts are taken to an abandoned warehouse fitted out as a TV studio, and blackmailed into filming counterfeit televised footage during the flight. But when the spacecraft burns up during atmospheric re-entry, what happens to them now….Written and directed by Peter Hyams with Elliott Gould as a crusading journalist out to discover the truth, and James Brolin, Sam Waterston, and O. J. Simpson as the astronauts. A good solid old fashioned thriller. (Mark)

Shadow of a doubt
One of Hitchcock’s early American efforts, ‘Shadow of a Doubt’ explores the darkness lurking beneath the surface of an idyllic Californian town. Teenage Charlie is thrilled when her namesake uncle Charlie comes to stay, but soon comes to suspect he might be running away from something horrific. The cosy domesticity of the family home becomes increasingly claustrophobic as Charlie’s suspicions grow more certain, but the rest of the family remain blissfully ignorant, taken in by Uncle Charlie’s easy charm. Hitchcock called this his favourite of all his films and it’s not hard to see why – every element is pitch perfect, from the performances to the atmosphere to the undermining of the seemingly ideal nuclear family. Definitely worth a watch! (Charlotte)

Happy as Lazzaro
In this half social and half magical realism dram, new Italian auteur Alice Rohrwacher creates an enigmatic modern fable by avoiding the explanatory narrative and letting images and sounds talk. With the surprising twist at the middle point, it offers a unique cinematic experience like no other. Bewitching. (Shinji)

 

A chorus line
The classic Broadway musical, brought to the screen. Set at an audition for a Broadway chorus line, a group of young hopefuls share their hopes and dreams. Killer musical numbers and a great storyline. Directed by Richard Attenborough. (Kath)

 

 

The Undoing
Based on the Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel You Should have known, this highly anticipated HBO’s mini-series follows a wealthy, perfect-looking New York couple who becomes the centre of the high-profile murder case. Although it’s not the best work by director Susanne Bier (After the Wedding, The Night Manager), the superb performances by the starry cast led by Hugh Grant, Nicole Kidman and the great Donald Sutherland make it a more than watchable psychological suspense. (Shinji)

I, Daniel Blake
The story of a 59 year old carpenter who finds himself out of work, trying to navigate the welfare system in the UK with dignity and respect. This film humanises welfare recipients and highlights just how punitive and discriminatory the systems in place are. Pack your tissues for this one! (Kath)

 

 

Caravaggio
I recently had the pleasure of watching Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio, which I borrowed on DVD. I saw it years back, but I went back again as I’d just read through his collected sketchbooks. I found it doubly wonderful to see his drawings and poems rendered into their final form- even more moving than before. I’d enjoyed his other films in the past, but none had made the same impact as this, hot on the heels of his personal writing. It’s a strange and sumptuous feast of a film, unexpected, anachronistic and beautiful- and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Our collections on his sketchbooks– and the book on his garden– make for wonderful companions! (Alex)

Bill & Ted face the music
William “Bill” S. Preston Esq. and “Ted” Theodore Logan are back, grown up, still married to the Medieval Babes and now parents of daughters that are very like them! Faced with the end of time yet again, they’re tasked with travelling through time to save the universe. And their daughters follow them on their quest. It’s silly, it’s full of call backs to the original movies, and it’s a great way to pass a couple of hours. (Kath)

 

[Bemafilm only]
Never released on DVD in Australasia ‘Time Lapse’ is an award winning indie-Sci-Fi film that has recently been added to our streaming service Bemafilm. Finn is a painter with a creative block, who lives together with his girlfriend Callie and his best friend Jasper in an apartment complex where Finn works as a manager. When they go to check on a reclusive elderly tenant they discover a strange machine in his apartment that takes Polaroid photos of their living room’s picture window—apparently 24 hours in the future, always at 8pm. Discovering the mysterious charred corpse of the tenant in his storage facility, they decide to use the machine for their own financial and artistic gain. However this means they have to make sure the events depicted in the photos come to pass or the timeline won’t be real… no matter what they show. Intriguing low-key Sci-Fi that digs into the ideas of causal loops, makes clever use of a static location and relies on a ideas rather than effects. Recommended if you like films such as Coherence & Primer. (Mark)

If Beale Street could Talk
Barry Jenkins’ follow up to the Oscar winner ‘Moonlight’ is a faithful adaption of a James Baldwin novel, and is a lyrical portrait of a young black couple who is facing injustice. The deeply rooted racial issue is the undertow of the film, but with his poetic aesthetic, Jenkins crafts a haunting yet beautiful love story. Glorious. (Shinji)

 

Nobody
If you ever watched ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘Better Call Saul’ & wondered what the shows would have been like if Bob Odenkirk had been cast as Walter White and Bryan Cranston had been cast as the comical lawyer Saul Goodman, then this is the movie for you. This action thriller directed by Russian director Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry) and written by Derek Kolstad (creator of the John Wick franchise) sees Odenkirk plays Hutch Mansell, a seemingly average middle aged office worker, who helps a young woman on the bus being harassed by a gang of thugs, only to become the target of a vengeful drug lord. However, much like John Wick, Hutch is not the mild-mannered guy he is pretending to be, and what follows is a hugely entertaining action-fest full of bonkers violence, absurdly entertaining scenes, and a good deal of tongue in cheek self-awareness. Tons of fun. (Mark)

Staff Picks CDs

Staff Picks are back, with a completely random selection of new & old music that Library Staff have been listening to recently!

Invisible cities = Le città invisibili / Winged Victory for the Sullen
New music from this great ambient duo is a collaboration with the theatre production directed by London Olympics ceremony video designer Leo Warner. It’s based on the Italo Calvino’s classic novel ‘Invisible Cities’ which is a series of conversations between Kublai Khan and Marco Polo. For this project the duo, once again, creates the stunning, sophisticated score; the medieval feelings are blended masterly in their well-established ethereal, ambient musical world. Sublime. (Shinji)

The pearl / Budd, Harold
I’ve been loving Harold Budd and Brian Eno’s The Pearl- it’s a piece I always return to when I’m doing creative work. It’s a mysterious and beautiful piece of music, that creates an atmosphere of potential. I first discovered it after listening through all of Brian Eno’s Ambient series, and it was also a very wonderful introduction to Harold Budd’s work. (Alex)

Be for real: the P.I.R. recordings (1972-1975) / Melvin, Harold
Nice collection rounds up all the Philadelphia International Records albums from one of the legendary Philly Soul groups, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. Melvin’s group had been around as far back as the 1950’s, scuffling through a variety of labels and members, but it wasn’t until Melvin recruited new drummer Teddy Pendergrass in 1970 that their fortunes took a turn. When Melvin heard Pendergrass singing along during a performance, he realised what a fantastic voice he had and promoted him to lead singer. They soon grew popular on the local club circuit and when Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff saw them performing, they convinced them to sign with their new Philadelphia International label in 1972. What followed was a period of hits that melded Pendergrass’ gruff voice with a string of scorching ballads and socially conscious songs, including the iconic tracks ‘If You Don’t Know Me by Now’ & ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’, which would become hits again when covered by Simply Red & The Communards in the late 80s. Nice liner notes cover the bands history with PIR and the legacy of their music. (Mark)

Californian soil. / London Grammar
With only two albums under their belt, the art-pop trio London Grammar became a hugely successful band. However, the lead singer Hannah Reid was frustrated with the male-dominant music industry and it led to the creation of this new music. The new album, which Reid calls ‘a feminist record’, finds them in a more edgy mood; melancholic but dynamic. Showing their mutuality and confidence, they seem to be heading toward a supergroup state. (Shinji)

Traveller. / Stapleton, Chris
This singer/songwriter is in Outlaw country with more of a soulful, bluesy sound. There seems to be an underlying theme of alcohol here – ‘Whiskey and You’, ‘Might as well get Stoned’ and ‘Tennessee Whiskey’. “As smooth as Tennessee Whisky, Sweet as Strawberry Wine, Warm as a glass of Brandy, Honey I stay stoned on you all the time”. Parachute is more up-tempo and passionate. I liked it a lot. (Greg)

Small moments. / Kye, Dan [VINYL ONLY]
‘Small Moments’ by Dan Kye [Ed. Dancefloor moniker of London-based NZ artist Jordan Rakei] is a really cool album! It’s funky, it’s fresh, and upbeat. Bound to get your head bopping. Great for a roadie, or when you need some tunes to blast while you do all your Sunday chores. (Emma)

 

Don’t shy away. / Loma
This project band by indie musicians such as Shearweter’s Jonathan Meiburg, Loma’s first album earned critical acclaim, partly thanks to Brian Eno who complimented their music. Intriguingly Eno Joins in on one track for this sophomore effort which is more expanded and experimental. In the vein of early Portishead or But For Lashes, it features a gloomy yet beautifully crafted ambient soundscape which perfectly goes with Emily Cross’ meditative voice. Marvellous. (Shinji)

Wildflowers & all the rest. / Petty, Tom
Finding Wildflowers (alternate versions). / Petty, Tom
In depth look at Tom Petty’s best solo outing from a prolific, creative & emotional period in his career, a ‘Pre-Divorce’ album, recorded amidst the collapse of his 20 year marriage. Petty always wanted ‘Wildflowers’ to be a double album, but the record company baulked. Some of the extra tracks surfaced in slightly different versions on the She’s The One Soundtrack, but the rest remained unreleased until now, and they’re every bit as good as the original tracks. The nicely constructed set lets you follow the evolution of the songs, from demos through to different takes, completed masters, and live versions. (Mark)

Collapsed in sunbeams. / Parks, Arlo
Growing up in West London and part Nigerian, Chadian and French; singer-songwriter and poet Arlo Parks shows a lot of potential and promise in this her debut album. It sounds like a soothing neo-soul infused bedroom-pop but the influences by Frank Ocean and her love of Sylvia Plath and Allen Ginsberg seem to give more radicalness and the depth to the sound creation and the lyrics. One to watch. (Shinji)

CD cataloguer Neil’s Recent Picks:
Flock. / Weaver, Jane
All bets are off. / Aphek, Tamar
Invisible cities = Le città invisibili / Winged Victory for the Sullen
Morricone segreto / Morricone, Ennio
As the love continues. / Mogwai
Glowing in the dark. / Django Django
On all fours. / Goat Girl
The future bites. / Wilson, Steven
Oh! Pardon tu dormais… / Birkin, Jane
Super blood wolf moon. / Brix & the Extricated
Introducing… Aaron Frazer. / Frazer, Aaron
Spare ribs. / Sleaford Mods
Lemon law. / Mousey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staff Picks – The Best of 2020: DVDs

COVID-19 impacted on the Movie & TV industry quite heavily in 2020 with many films and shows delayed, or when released, only via online streaming platforms and not on a physical format. All of this affected the Library DVD collection to some degree, however there will still a lot of quality releases that we enjoyed over the course of the year, and here are some of our favourites.

Kath’s Picks:
This town
So this film was promoted as a comedy, which it sort of is… but it’s dark. Really dark. I did laugh, but more often I found myself drawing a sharp breath and thinking “Oh no!” Written, directed and starring David White, this recent New Zealand film is the story of Sean (White), a man with a troubled past searching for love. He meets Casey (Alice May Connolly), a sweet local girl and they fall for one another. But the spanner in the works of their romance is ex-cop Pam (Robyn Malcolm) who is determined to put Sean behind bars for a crime he has already been acquitted of. There is something sweet and gentle about Sean and Casey’s relationship that I found endearing, even if they are both a bit on the gormless side. It has a really good solid twist at the end that I never saw coming.

My spy
Look it’s never going to win any Oscars and it’s the common trope of “tough guy softened by cute kid”, but it was sweet, heart-warming and fun to watch. Starring Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) as JJ, a hard nosed CIA operative and Chloe Coleman as Sophie, the cute and smart kid who blackmails him into teaching her to be tough and cool to beat the bullies at school. Turns out that Chloe isn’t quite as vulnerable as she thinks and JJ isn’t the tough guy he tries to project to the world. It’s funny and endearing, and a great movie for the whole family.

Gus’s Pick:
Tenet
Christopher Nolan’s latest heady blockbuster had to clear a lot of hurdles to reach screens this year, namely the worldwide pandemic, and once viewers were finally able to watch the film safely, it was met not with relief but with an exasperation not seen since the release of Nolan’s earlier film Inception. Part Primer and part Bond movie, Tenet follows a secret agent who uncovers the mysterious TENET organisation, whose members can harness the “inversion” of time and undo potential catastrophes before they happen. The appeal of the backwards time gimmick is at turns both delightful and frustrating, as bullets returning into guns and car chases conducted entirely in reverse eventually grow into whole battles conducted backwards and forwards in time that leave you more confused than entertained. But if you’re willing to roll with its admittedly cool premise (and maybe consult a few message boards), you’ll find TENET to be another action-packed high-concept romp from one of cinema’s most engaging populist auteurs.

Neil J.’s Picks:
The gentlemen/
Ritchie back on form doing what Ritchie does best snappy, sharp and twisty a film that rattles along!

 

 

 

Bill & Ted face the music
Surprisingly faithful to the originals fun, funny, goofy with a great heart.

 

 

 

Color out of space
Nic Cage goes Bonkers as only Nic Cage can in this Lovecraftian horror. Totally OTT pulpy B movie in feel, look out for the Llamas!!!!! (if you like try Mandy, which is Cage out there where the buses don’t run).

 

 

The booksellers.
A documentary about booksellers what could be more perfect!! Engaging, comfy and entertaining.

 

 

 

The invisible man
The umpteenth remake of the HG Wells novel (my fav is the 1933 James Whale version starring Claude Rains) but this version is pretty good too for very different reasons. This time it is as a modern day edge of the seat horror thriller.

 

 

Farmageddon : a Shaun the Sheep movie
A really well made family movie where the love and care of the animators can be seen in every frame right down to their fingerprints on the clay, a sweet and adorable film.

 

 

The personal history of David Copperfield ,
Quirky, offbeat, historical comedy. Fabulous comic performances all round, a film bursting with warmth and humanity. At the polar opposite of Iannucci’s previous film outing the hugely enjoyable The Death of Stalin, in which the humour is as pitch black as it comes.

 

 

Shinji’s Picks:
Sorry we missed you.
A compelling portrait of courier driver Ricky, who wants to be self-employed, and his family. Their struggle highlights the injustice that ‘working poor’ people are facing today, particularly in the gig economy. It might make you feel depressed, but like its brilliant predecessor I, Daniel Blake, Ken Loach’s masterful direction makes it a powerful yet warm, sensitive drama. A stellar work.

 

Pain and glory.
Pedro Almodovar usually entertains us with unpredictable, twisted plots, but this semi-autobiographical film is rather low-key by his standard. His most trusted actor Antonio Banderas superbly plays a successful old filmmaker who looks back on his life and career. It’s about love and memory, and depicted in a very personal, almost confessional way. The 70-year-old Almodovar probably had to make this film to finish up the chapter he has been in to move on. Deeply affecting.

Portrait of a lady on fire
A slow burning period drama by the new French auteur Celine Sciamma (Tomboy, Girlhood) about two women; a noble bride-to-be and an artist who is commissioned to paint her portrait. It’s a subtly nuanced love story of these women but deep emotions lie underneath, which come out at the moving ending scene. Brilliantly performed by two leading actors, it’s a gracefully crafted, captivating work. Sublime.

 

Monos
Set in an astonishing looking mountainous landscape, it follows a group of teenage soldiers and an American female hostage, who is captured by their ‘organisation’. This slightly bizarre tale – somewhere between Lord of the Flies and Apocalypse Now – is all about survival. The film left us with more questions than answers, but it’s a vigorous, uncompromised work by the Colombian filmmaker Alejandro Landes. Impressive.

 

Queen & Slim.
Their first date was a rather forgettable one. A young black man and woman, Slim and Queen, just wanted to go home but when the white policeman stopped their car, everything changed. A Thelma & Louise like runaway saga begins from there but it has a serious ‘Black Lives Matter’ spin. The debut director Melina Matsoukas, who has made fine music videos for the likes of Beyonce and Rihanna, offers a dark but sharp, stylish drama with a great soundtrack. Brilliant.

For Sama.
Watching multi-award-winning documentary ‘For Sama’ is not easy. It’s a report from a war zone; the city of Aleppo, Syria. The city is under siege, Russian planes come and bomb. Eight out of the nine hospitals in East Aleppo had been destroyed. From the one hospital left, a student journalist turned filmmaker, Waad Al-Kateab shows us the devastating but most intimate, insightful realities of war. She married a doctor and became a mother during the battle of Aleppo (2012-2016). The film is dedicated for her daughter ‘Sama’ and is also a love letter to the city and its people. Incredibly touching.

Monty’s Picks:
Watchmen
Hugely enjoyable, unpredictable romp through the Watchmen comic-book universe that only occasionally borrows from the Alan Moore comics. The alternative earth of Watchmen is slightly removed from the United States now, but the fascist society, hidden and obvious racism reflected within the plot point towards the awfulness of Trump’s America. Despite the larger agenda, the human story portrayed across generations is beautifully told and amazingly acted especially by Regina King, Louis Gossett Jr and Jeremy Irons.

The dead don’t die
Jim Jarmusch has made a Zombie film finally – what took him so long?? Full of knowing in-joke asides, laid back performances, laconic dialogue and deliberate pacing, this may not be for everyone but will satisfy Jarmusch completists, and anyone wanting to see Bill Murray and Adam Driver driving together forever.

 

 

Des
David Tennant is very believable as mild mannered yet unpredictable serial killer Dennis Nilsen in this UK production of the famous murder case from the 1980’s. Des transcends other police procedurals by reversing the whodunnit tradition – we know who-did-it in the first half hour and the effective tension in the rest of the series results from how he’ll be convicted, and what toll it will take on the police, the media and those around the oblivious, destructive serial killer.

 

Wellington paranormal. Season 2.
New Zealand’s premier horror-comedy set in Wellington featuring a secret police squad dealing with everyday kiwi-monsters. Familiar, brilliant and occasionally unnerving.

 

 

Mark’s Picks:
Homecoming. Season one.
TV series based on the popular Podcast starring Julia Roberts & directed by Mr Robot’s Sam Esmail. Playing out both in the past & the present, Roberts is a social worker at the Homecoming Transitional Support Center, a live-in facility run by the mysterious Geist Group that helps soldiers transition to civilian life; and also 4 years later a waitress with little memory of her previous life and job. Just what happened at Homecoming is slowly teased out in this slow moving, enigmatic & engaging drama.

Billions. Season four.
Former enemies Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) and Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff), the chief counselor to each, come together to form an uneasy alliance aimed at the eradication of all their rivals. Horrible rich people doing rich people things to each other. There’s no one to really like anymore as everyone is just as corrupt and vicious as everyone else, but that’s probably the point. An indictment of 21st century capitalism and the nexus of finance, power and the law.

Unhinged
Russell Crowe packs on the pounds and channels his inner angry Nic Cage self, as an angry white man who decides to hand out a lesson in manners. Bonkers B-movie fun!

 

 

Mr. Robot. the final season. Season_4.0 :
How to end a show that saw itself as a diatribe against modern capitalism & the power of corporations, a cold thriller focusing on ‘hacks’ the way that other prestige shows & movies take on ‘heists’; yet also at certain points a dreamy weird non-linear Twin Peaks of Tech, full of surreal characters & labyrinthine plotlines that often don’t seem to work, or even make sense. After a somewhat ponderous 3rd season creator Sam Esmail manages to pull everything (including protagonist Elliot’s multiple personalities) together, by making the focus of the last season the characters need to step away from the world of their screens and connect face to face emotionally with one another and with themselves. At times a frustrating show, even as it was fascinating, the final episodes managed to provide a cohesion & closure to the epic 4 season narrative.

Pauline’s Pick:
This town

 

 

 

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Staff Picks – The Best of 2020: CDs

Even with the impact of COVID-19, and perhaps due to it in many ways, 2020 was a bumper year for music releases. Here is a round-up of some of our favourite new releases and reissues from last year.

Shinji’s Pick’s:
Untitled (Black is). / Sault
London based trio Sault released two impressive albums in 2020; ‘Untitled (Black is)’ and ‘Untitled (Rise), and both are in response to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. Inheriting great sprits of black music ‘Black is’ seems to be a modern day version of Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’ (1971) or Sly and the Family Stone’s ‘There’s a Riot Goin’ On’ (1971), and akin to D’angelo’s ‘Black Messiah’ (2014). Although the world hasn’t changed much, this is an exceptional musical achievement drawing from soul, funk, afrobeat and gospel.

Some kind of peace. / Ólafur Arnalds
The new album by the Icelandic multi-instrumentalist and composer Olafur Arnalds takes us on a beautiful, sophisticated musical journey. Collaborating with the likes of Bonobo and Josin, it’s probably his most personal, introspective album to date. From minimal compositions, he creates immaculately crafted and rich music, somewhere between electronica and ambient, and brings us the cool air as well as the warmth. Exquisite.

Share the wealth / Cline, Nels
He is now often described as a Wilco’s Nels Cline, but it’s not quite right for the old fans, who have followed him since when he played freaky music in L.A. The Nels Cline Singers has been his staple project and this new album offers more brilliant, forward-thinking music. Collecting from a two-day recording of spontaneous sessions by the new sextet, this jam-feel music displays sonically intriguing, with ‘Bitches Brew’-like moments, intense yet sophisticated jazz and beyond world. Marvelous.

Best of box-sets
Raw like sushi. / Cherry, Neneh
Neneh Cherry’s debut in 1989 became a groundbreaking album blending hip-hop, R&B, pop and dance, but it was her fearless, avant-garde mojo that took the world by storm. Thirty years down the line, it surprisingly survived well and still sounds hip and funky. This 3 CD-set includes rare mixes of tracks offering a timeless coolness. Dance with her.

 

Throw down your heart : the complete Africa sessions / Fleck, Béla
Banjo maestro Bela Fleck, who plays from traditional bluegrass to jazz to Bach, took a journey to four African countries to explore the roots of banjo. Some of the collaborations with local musicians have been released on various mediums, and this box-set compiles all these materials with a new recording with kora master Toumani Diabate. Fleck’s musical curiosity and down-to-earth approach seem endless and it’s showcased in the DVD of the of the award-winning documentary of this trip, which completes this box-set. All in all, it offers a rich, delightful musical experience.

Summerteeth [deluxe]. / Wilco
Between the breakthrough album ‘Being There’ and the acclaimed ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’, the 1999 album ‘Summerteeth’ records an intriguing phase of becoming the successful cross-genre rock group from the alternative country band, and remains one of their best albums. This four-CD set contains a superbly remastered original album, unreleased outtakes and demos, and the live show on two CDs. It’s a great document of the dawn of this supergroup and sounds still very much fresh.

The landmark album in the 80s ‘Sign O the Times’ documents one of the highest points of Prince’s career. Following the earlier reissues of ‘1999’ and ‘Purple Rain’, this masterpiece comes back as an amazing box-set containing 8 CDs with a DVD. 63 of the 92 tracks in 8 CDs are previously unreleased including 45 studio recordings from 1979 to 1987. The quality of these recordings is simply fantastic and unmistakably Prince. The DVDs features the rare footage of Miles Davis on stage with Prince. This is as good as the deluxe reissue gets.

Archives. Volume 1, The early years (1963-1967). / Mitchell, Joni
Joni Mitchell has been slowly recovering from a brain aneurysm which she had in 2015 and is still not able to make new music. However, this is a great present for fans. Collecting her performances before the 1968 debut ‘Songs to a Seagull’, which most of us have never heard, it shows a fascinating insight into the early career of this legendary singer-songwriter. It’s very interesting to learn that some of her well-known songs such as ‘The Circle Game’ and ‘Both Sides Now’ were already written at this very early stage. It’s a great start for the long-awaited archive series.

Mark’s Picks:
The new abnormal / Strokes
The Strokes return after 7 years with one of those great albums that rewards after repeated listens; revealing a new level of emotional maturity and shifting musical contours, playing off their previous trademark style while adding in new elements. Diverging from the shorter pop ‘verse/chorus/verse’ construct of previous albums, the songs stretch out for longer and it takes a few listens before all the inherent melodies sink in. Julian Casablancas’ lyrics are more political and mature, befitting someone now in their 40s, the songs more brooding and reflective. The band sounds more together and focused than on the last couple of albums, and you once again marvel at the level of musicianship they provide to underpin Casablancas’ vocals, culminating in the epic closing track ‘Ode To The Mets’ which ranks as one of their best tracks ever.

The kingdom. / Bush
Supposedly inspired by being the only Rock band playing at a bunch of Metal Festivals, ‘The Kingdom’ is a surprisingly heavy return to form for the English post grunge-rockers. Frontman Gavin Rossdale brings ex-Helmet guitarist Chris Traynor up in the mix for a twin near-metal attack that showcases an album of hugely catchy riffs and soaring vocals, anchored by some of his best song-writing in years. If you enjoyed the pummelling track ‘Bullet Holes’, that played out over the credits of John Wick 3, then you’ll enjoy the sound of this follow-up album.

To drink the rainbow : an anthology 1988-2019. / Tikaram, Tanita
The German-born English singer of Fijian & Malaysian descent released her first album (produced by ex-Zombie Rod Argent) aged only 19 and had a ‘hit’ of sorts with the moody & enigmatic track ‘Twist in My Sobriety’. Her debut album sold four million copies worldwide but she never seemed interested in commercial success and her career since then has been a winding journey thorough various musical muses including baroque-pop, chamber-folk, Latin-jazz, duets with Nick Lowe & Grant Lee Phillips and more – with often periods of long retirement in between albums. At the centre of her musical journey is her wonderfully husky & unique voice. This ‘offbeat’ anthology focuses on the later part of her career, cleverly curated by music writer and broadcaster Peter Paphides for his Needle Mythology label, and places the focus on the high level of song-writing sustained across a 30 year career of musical evolution and discovery.

Let me be good to you : the Atlantic & Stax recordings (1960-1968). / Thomas, Carla
Great round-up of most of the albums of this under-rated singer, who was known as the Queen of Memphis Soul. This box covers the history of Stax records from down-home soul duets with with her father Rufus Thomas or label mate Otis Redding, to melancholy ‘Girl Group’ stringed ballads, to the later more elegant shimmering Pop and R&B cuts. Plenty of classic soul is served up over the course of these 4 discs on this set, which includes a nice booklet outlining her musical upbringing & career, as well as a nice natural sound to the remastering.

Joseph’s Picks:
To love is to live. / Beth, Jehnny
Warm and cold, inviting and austere, Jehnny Beth channels enormous energy in this incredible and experimental release.

 

 

 

Inner song. / Owens, Kelly Lee
Restful, meditative and sometimes danceable! Featuring a very beautiful guest appearance from John Cale.

 

 

 

Gus’s Picks:
Tenet : original motion picture soundtrack
TENET marks the first time since Batman Begins that Christopher Nolan has worked with a composer other than Hans Zimmer. With some big shoes to fill and facing the unique challenge of scoring a film during a global pandemic, Ludwig Goransson more than ably commits himself to the task. Clearly revelling in TENET’s premise of characters who can weaponise the reversal of time, Goransson has created a compellingly bizarre score to match it, where sections of the score play both backwards and forwards over each other, producing some compellingly spooky soundscapes. Buoyed by methodical guitar licks and pulsing electronic beats, the score feels both otherworldly methodical and achingly human; in the latter case sometimes literally, as certain tracks include samples of Christopher Nolan’s breathing and the Autotuned cooing of rapper Travis Scott.

Plus:
The slow rush. / Tame Impala
Song machine. Season one, Strange timez. / Gorillaz
It is what it is. / Thundercat
Jump rope gazers / Beths
The new abnormal / Strokes
Unfollow the rules. / Wainwright, Rufus
Friend ship / Phoenix Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neil P.’s Picks:
Dreamboat. / Luluc
By the fire. / Moore, Thurston
Good songs for bad people. / Drab City
Nayda! / Bab L’ Bluz
Harry. / Dead Famous People
Free humans. / Hen Ogledd
Nightcap at wits’ end. / Garcia Peoples
The true story of Bananagun. / Bananagun
Chastity Belt. / Chastity Belt
Don’t let get you down. / Wajatta
Mettavolution live. / Rodrigo y Gabriela
Messianic. / Dark Divinity
Mordechai. / Khruangbin
Summerlong. / Rose City Band
High risk behaviour / Chats
5 years behind. / Thick
It is what it is. / Thundercat
The ghost of Freddie Cesar / Kingi, Troy
Protean threat / Oh Sees
There is no other… / Campbell, Isobel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dani’s Picks:
Sorry you couldn’t make it. / Swamp Dogg
Fetch the bolt cutters. / Apple, Fiona
Old flowers. / Andrews, Courtney Marie
The balladeer. / McKenna, Lori
Reb Fountain. / Fountain, Reb
The ghost of Freddie Cesar / Kingi, Troy
Cuttin’ grass : the Butcher Shoppe sessions. / Simpson, Sturgill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shane’s Picks:
Inner song. / Owens, Kelly Lee
Good songs for bad people. / Drab City
I disagree. / Poppy
Even in exile. / Bradfield, James Dean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monty’s Picks:
Live at the Powerstation. / Avantdale Bowling Club[VINYL]
Out of my province. / Reid, Nadia[VINYL]
Color theory. / Soccer Mommy
Gold record. / Callahan, Bill
Greatest hits : my sister thanks you and I thank you. / White Stripes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Staff Picks CDs & DVDs

Staff Picks are back, with a completely random selection of new & old material that Library Staff have been watching & viewing recently!


Punisher. / Bridgers, Phoebe
When I reminisce about the apocalyptic hellscape that has been 2020, this album makes a fitting soundtrack. Flitting between jubilant and despondent, edgy and soft, this is a sophisticated offering which will appeal to those who spent their adolescence in the grip of emo pop rock, but who now prefer a bit more nuance. (Cassie)

Ghosts of West Virginia / Earle, Steve
Singer/Songwriter/Activist Steve Earle is involved in a project concerning a coal mining explosion that killed 29 miners. He wrote the music for this public theatre project in conjunction with documentary playwrights, who interviewed the families of the dead and the few survivors. He has a distinctive voice and writes powerful lyrics. Also includes 3 songs not in the play, but of a similar theme. I particularly liked Black Lung. (Greg)

The shocking Miss Emerald. / Emerald, Caro
Dutch chanteuse Caro Emerald’s Retro, Big Band singing style will get your toes tapping and your mood uplifted! These jazzy pop songs may be the Perfect hot (Hopefully) summer) soundtrack. (David)

Baduizm. / Badu, Erykah
I’ve been doing a deep dive into the murky waters of the music of my adolescence lately. There are so many classic records in the 90s and any deep drive into this decade brings you to the glory that is Erykah Badu’s “Baduizm”. Released in 1997, this record was Badu’s debut album that crowned her the high priestess of neo-soul. This record is uniquely Badu, mixing the singing style of Billie Holiday with soul, R&B, jazz and hip-hop. It’s songs of heartbreak speak of higher issues than a first listen can provide so is worth a good listen. (Dani)

England is a garden. / Cornershop
I hadn’t listened to the band for many years, but Cornershop came back into my life right after my family and I moved to New Zealand in late 2019. Those days were joyous, yet at the same time some of the most tiring moments that I have ever lived through, immigrating to a new country and getting adjusted to a very different way of life. Cornershop squeezed its way back in during all of this, when they announced a new album coming out in March 2020 titled “England Is A Garden”. In the time of Covid-19, I can’t think of a better band and album to spend lots of my time with. From start to finish, “England Is A Garden” is a gem to listen to, but it also makes you feel good things. You think about your place in the world as you listen to the album, you realise just how wonderful and special it is to be alive, no matter what is going on all around you. Certain music connects you to things happening, while at the same time providing an escape, and “England Is A Garden” is a perfect example of this. (Justin)

The kingdom. / Bush
Supposedly inspired by being the only Rock band playing at a bunch of Metal Festivals, ‘The Kingdom’ is a surprisingly heavy return to form for the English post grunge-rockers. Frontman Gavin Rossdale brings ex-Helmet guitarist Chris Traynor up in the mix for a twin near-metal attack that showcases an album of hugely catchy riffs and soaring vocals, anchored by some of his best song-writing in years. If you enjoyed the pummelling track ‘Bullet Holes’, that played out over the credits of John Wick 3, then you’ll enjoy the sound of this follow-up album. (Mark)

American head / Flaming Lips
The Flaming Lips are a bit wacky, an acquired taste, sort of cosmic, ethereal, spacey and this latest is no different to previous albums like Yoshimi battles the pink robots. So that’s good because they offer a mix of light and heavy sounds filled with simple melodies and complex noises. The lyrics on this album can teeter on the simplistic, but there are a lot of lovely harmonies and rhythms with eclectic patterns. So, something both soothing and slightly offbeat at the same time, which is great! (Martin)

The new abnormal / Strokes
The Strokes return after 7 years with one of those great albums that rewards after repeated listens; revealing a new level of emotional maturity and shifting musical contours, that play off their previous trademark style while adding in new elements. Diverging from the shorter pop ‘verse/chorus/verse’ construct of previous albums, the songs stretch out for longer and it takes a few listens before all the inherent melodies sink in. Julian Casablancas’ lyrics are more political and mature, befitting someone now in their 40s, the songs more brooding and reflective. The band sounds more together and focused than on the last couple of albums, and you once again marvel at the level of musicianship they provide to underpin Casablancas’ vocals, culminating in the epic closing track ‘Ode To The Mets’ which ranks as one of their best tracks ever. (Mark)

Endeavour. Complete series seven.
This is a great series and has kept us captivated since season 1. This latest series is set in the ’70’s and takes me back to the fashions and foibles of my childhood. Another set of Oxford murders to solve as well as an intriguing new relationship for Endeavour Morse keeps you guessing. (Raewyn)

Mystery Men. 
Oh the 90’s, what a time for movies! Possibly one of the most 90’s movies ever made (it’s soundtrack even has Smash Mouth’s All Star), this ridiculous tale of ridiculous superheroes is lots of silly fun. All the usual names are there, Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, Paul Reubens, Janeane Garofalo but you also get bonus Tom Waits (a mad scientist who builds non-lethal weapons, like the Blame Thrower) and Eddie Izzard (one of the villainous Disco Boys henchmen). Not to mention that the villain is named Cassanova Frankenstein. Yes, you read that correctly, Cassanova Frankenstein. It’s camp, it’s silly, Hank Azaria throws forks at people and there’s an invisible boy who can only be invisible when nobody is looking. It’s just lots of fun. (Kath)

This town
So this film was promoted as a comedy, which it sort of is… but it’s dark. Really dark. I did laugh, but more often I found myself drawing a sharp breath and thinking “Oh no!” Written, directed and starring David White, this recent New Zealand film is the story of Sean (White), a man with a troubled past searching for love. He meets Casey (Alice May Connolly), a sweet local girl and they fall for one another. But the spanner in the works of their romance is ex-cop Pam (Robyn Malcolm) who is determined to put Sean behind bars for a crime he has already been acquitted of. There is something sweet and gentle about Sean and Casey’s relationship that I found endearing, even if they are both a bit on the gormless side. It has a really good solid twist at the end that I never saw coming. (Kath)

Velvet goldmine
If you’re a fan of 70’s glam rock, like Bowie, Marc Bolan, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop etc, this film is a fictional story made up of a lot of glam rock legends… that might be true, or they might not. Christian Bale plays a young English journalist Arthur Stuart (the biggest flaw of the movie – I found him terrible and his English accent even worse) chasing the story of what happened to glam rock superstar Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) whose career failed after he faked is own assassination on stage. Interviewing the people closest to Slade, like his ex-wife Mandy (Toni Collette, brilliantly doing her best Angie Bowie impersonation) and reported ex-lover American glam rocker Curt Wild (Ewan MacGregor, who steals the movie in every scene he appears) finds himself disappearing down a rabbit-hole of sex, drugs and rock n roll which never quite brings him any closer to Slade’s whereabouts. Don’t let Christian Bale’s performance put you off, the rest of the cast more than make up for it. Fantastic costuming and make-up, the soundtrack is glam rock heaven and it’s one of the iconic alternative films from the late 90’s. (Kath)


The Lost Aviator A Beamafilm Documentary (Australia)
Against his families wishes Documentary maker Andrew Lancaster unveils his pioneer aviator’s uncle’s life of adventure, obsessive love and involvement in a sensational murder trial. An intriguing story with a curiously moving and haunting ending. (David)

Queens of mystery. [Series 1]
Newly promoted Detective Sergeant Matilda Stone investigates offbeat murders in a quaint English Village. Her 3 crime-writing aunts lend her their expertise, as well as unwanted dating advice. They may solve the murders, but the unexplained disappearance of Matilda’s mother 25 years ago will be harder to crack “a quality production- Very well written and acted. The whole family enjoyed it”. (Roseanne)

Neil P’s Picks:
As the WCL CD Cataloguer, these are some of my favourite new CDs…
Andy Bell – The view from halfway down
Thurston Moore – By the fire
Drab City – Good songs for bad people
Dead Famous People – Harry
Magik Markers – 2020
Heliocentrics – Telemetric sounds
Hen Ogledd – Free humans
Garcia Peoples – Nightcap at wits’ end
Fenne Lily – Breach

Shinji’s Picks:
DVD’s:
Queen and Slim
Sorry We Missed You
The End of the Golden Weather
For Sama
Homecoming (TV show)

CD’s:
Blue Nile – High[Bonus Disc]
Sault – Untitled (Black is)
Bela Fleck – Throw Down Your Heart
Julianna Barwick – Healing Is a Miracle
Aaron Parks – Little Big II: dreams of a mechanical man


New Music at Te Awe

I’m Mark, the Customer Specialist for Music & Film at Wellington City Library. If you spent some time in the Sound & Vision section of the old Central Library you may remember seeing myself and my colleague Shinji, shifting shelves of CDs or DVDs around. We are now in charge of buying the CDs & Vinyl for the Library collection, so we thought we’d start a blog on some of the new and upcoming material we have been buying for the Music collection at our CBD Te Awe branch.
My colleague Neil & I decided to do a quick one line review of these titles to see if we actually know anything about them…

New CDs at Te Awe:
Green. / Yoshimura, Hiroshi
Neil: Regarded as a seminal Japanese 80s ambient album. A great companion piece to Midori Takada’s Through The Looking Glass.
Mark: Pitchfork approved noodling.

 

 

Absolute zero. / Hornsby, Bruce
Neil: After a long wait Hornsby explores some new avenues.
Mark: Jazz meets electronica (if you like that sort of thing). See what AllMusic says.

 

 

Giant steps. / Coltrane, John
Neil: Giant steps is rightly regarded as a masterpiece.
Mark: Deluxe reissue of an iconic album. Strange to think he made Kind of Blue at the same time. Total opposites in style.

 

 

An evening of New York songs and stories. / Vega, Suzanne
Neil: Polished performances of some of her greatest tracks recorded live in an intimate café setting.
Mark: Perhaps too polished.

 

 

 

Sun racket. / Throwing Muses
Neil: First album in 7 years. A welcome return to form of Kristin Hersh’s Alt-Rock icons.
Mark: I always liked her sisters bands better.

 

 

To bring you my love : demos. / Harvey, P. J.
Neil: Unvarnished raw recordings show the grit & sinew behind the more polished final album.
Mark: I prefer the final versions that made it to the album.

 

 

Angelheaded hipster : the songs of Marc Bolan & T. Rex : a Hal Willner production.
Neil: By the nature these are a bit hit & miss, shows how the originals were defined by Tony Viscotti’s T-Rex trademark production. Best track Children Of The Revolution – Kesha.
Mark: She Was Born To Be My Unicorn / Ride A White Swan – Maria McKee.

 

 

Ultra mono. / Idles
Neil: I love this album. #1 in the UK but it could have been released by The Stranglers in 1978.
Mark: Retromania.

 

 

American head / Flaming Lips
Neil: A less experimental album. More like Soft Bulletin than recent outings. Will make lots of Best of the Year lists.
Mark: I always liked Soft Bulletin when it came out.

 

 

 

Blues with friends. / Dion
Neil: A cool coffee shop album.
Mark: New songs (not old covers) played with famous friends.
 

 

 

Wrong way up / Eno, Brian
Neil: This Eno & Cale welcome rerelease has a backstory that is the stuff of legend.
Mark: Filed under Experimental not Popular so it doesn’t confuse the shelvers…

 

 

 

1969 to 1974. / Fleetwood Mac
Neil: When they were a real band. Before the Americans turned them into a stadium filling phenomenon
Mark: I didn’t realize they had made any albums before Stevie & Lindsey…
 

 

The Dusty Springfield anthology. / Springfield, Dusty
Neil: Yet another Dusty Springfield anthology
Mark: But its the best one, with the best sound quality. Out of print also. Allmusic review here.

 

 

Goats head soup / Rolling Stones
Neil: Yet another Rolling Stones re-release for fans. The only great RS album is Exile on Main Street.
Mark: Underrated/unappreciated entry in their catalogue, or another cynical cash in? Listen to it to find out.

 

 

Hard luck stories 1972-1982 / Thompson, Richard
Neil: The underrated Richard & Linda Thompson are given the comprehensive box set treatment.
Mark: 8 discs of all their studio albums with a fantastic hardbound book full of rare photos.

 

 

 

NWOBHM : thunder : new wave of British heavy metal 1978-1986.
Neil: The new wave of British Heavy Metal really shook up the genre that was dominated by Americans. This compilation includes some of its lesser known, but just as worthy, participants.
Mark: Cherry Red has cornered the market on these kind of obscure compilations.

 

Voices. / Richter, Max
Neil: One of my favorite classical albums is the 8 hour version of Sleep. Voices continues his remarkable output.
Mark: Universal Declaration of Human Rights put to music. Sure to aid in your sleep patterns.

 

 

 

Folklore. / Swift, Taylor
Neil: Pop songstress & social media juggernaut returns with another studio album for her fanbase.
Mark: A return to songwriting form, or lockdown musings ruined by the guy from the National? Listen to find out.

 

 

Chalk dogs / Johnstone, Neil
Neil: Willfully arty and experimental. Obviously a work of genius.
Mark: I listened to the first song & it made be feel anxious. Even the cover is scary. Listen to an exclusive video on our Wgtn Music YT channel if you dare.

 

 

On Order material:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and more….

New DVDs at Te Awe

Here are some new movies & TV Shows recently added to our collection and available at our CBD Te Awe Library and selected Branch locations.

New Movies:
Photograph
“A struggling street photographer in Mumbai, pressured to marry by his grandmother, convinces a shy stranger to pose as his fiancée. The pair develop a connection that transforms them in ways they could not expect.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Why didn’t they ask Evans?
“During a round of golf on a cliff-top course in Wales, Bobby Jones discovers a man lying gravely injured on the rocks below. His last words, “Why didn’t they ask Evans?,” leads Bobby and his friend on a quest to find out what happened to the man.” (Catalogue)

 

 

A White, White Day
“The powerful new film by Hlynur Plmason centres on a grieving police officer in rural Iceland (Ingvar E. Sigursson) who turns his vengeful sights on a neighbour he suspects may have had an affair with his now-deceased wife.” (Catalogue)

 

 

New TV Shows:
Shakespeare & Hathaway : private investigators. Season one.
“Private inspector Frank Hathaway has always worked alone. But Frank isn’t doing so well. He’s out of shape and low on cash. Frank needs a partner. Frank needs ex-hairdresser and people-person Lu. He just doesn’t know it yet. The two eventually join forces and form a highly unlikely and hugely entertaining detecting duo. Frank and Lu quickly discover that all is not as peaceful as it seems in their pretty theatre town. The mayor is murdered, vengeful lovers stalk the streets and a magician’s trick fatally misfires. Welcome to Stratford-upon-Avon, where low life criminals get caught up in deliciously high drama.” (Catalogue)

Ray Donovan. Season seven.
“While Ray makes progress in therapy, there are dangers from the past that require the Ray Donovan of old. Between NYC mayor Ed Feratti, an unrelenting NYPD officer hunting for the truth and clients old and new, Ray struggles to find the balance between fixing for clients and fixing himself. And when Feratti’s corruption brings a piece of Mickey’s past back to New York, Ray is forced to seek answers to long-buried questions.” (Catalogue)

 

Occupied. Series 3.
“A new parliamentary election is due, and the campaign reignites old conflicts between the Norwegians. Seeing himself as the liberator of Norway, interim Prime Minister Jesper Berg is confident of winning the election. But the public is divided. Who are the real liberation heroes? How should traitors be treated? How will relations with Russia develop? And has Russia actually withdrawn from Norway? To complicate matters, Jesper is confronted by a group of young eco-scientists desperate to remind him of his original reason for entering into politics: His deep commitment to clean energy. Ambassador to Norway, Sidorova is torn between her wish to start a new life in Norway and her loyalty to Russia. Security Services Director Hans Martin Djupvik investigates the assassination of former Prime Minister Anita Rygh. And Bente takes her daughter to Moscow to escape the prosecution of traitors.” (Catalogue)

Homecoming. Season one.
“Good intentions. Erratic bosses. Mounting paranoia. Unforeseen consequences spiralling out of control. Heidi (Julia Roberts) works at Homecoming, a facility helping soldiers transition to civilian life. Years later she has started a new life, when the Department of Defense questions why she left Homecoming. Heidi soon realises there’s a whole other story behind the one she’s been telling herself.” (Catalogue)

 

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Season two.
“In the second season after tracking a potentially suspicious shipment of illegal arms in the Venezuelan jungle, CIA Officer Jack Ryan heads down to South America to investigate. As Jack’s investigation threatens to uncover a far-reaching conspiracy, the President of Venezuela launches a counter-attack that hits home for Jack, leading him and his fellow operatives on a global mission spanning the United States, UK, Russia, and Venezuela to unravel the President’s nefarious plot.” (Catalogue)

His dark materials. The complete first season.
“A young girl is destined to liberate her world from the grip of the Magisterium, which represses people’s ties to magic and their animal spirits known as daemons.” (Catalogue)

 

 

The boys. Season 1.
“The Boys is an irreverent take on what happens when superheroes – as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as gods – abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good. It is the powerless against the superpowerful as The Boys embark on a heroic quest to expose the truth about “The Seven” and their formidable Vought backing.” (Catalogue)

 

Belgravia. Season one.
“On the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, two young lovers forge a legacy that will create scandal for generations to come. Years later, when the humble Trenchards (Tamsin Greig and Philip Gleinster) move to Belgravia, they find themselves mixing with the venerated Brockenhursts (Harriet Walter and Tom Wilkinson). The families share a history that threatens inheritances and reputations and there are those who would do anything to ensure secrets remain buried. Pride and loyalty will be tested as forbidden love blossoms amongst the rivalry and lives hang in the balance.” (Catalogue)

Good girls. Season two.
“Good Girls Season 2 opens with Beth (Christina Hendricks) dealing with her failed plan to get Rio (Manny Montana) arrested, while evidence about their crimes end up on Agent Turner’s (James Lesure) desk. Throughout the season, Ruby (Retta) and Beth deal with the new status of their relationships with their husbands Stan (Reno Wilson) and Dean (Matthew Lillard), now aware of their secret criminal life; meanwhile, Annie (Mae Whitman) and her daughter have a hard time getting along. However, with the threat of a conviction looming over them, they can’t afford to make any mistakes with any of their activities.” (Catalogue)

Striking out. Complete series one & two.
“Tara Rafferty is a high-flying solicitor living an apparently charmed existence with her good-looking law-partner fiancé Eric. But when she discovers Eric is cheating on her with a colleague, she decides to go it alone and start her own law firm.” (Catalogue)

 

 

New Amsterdam. Season two
“Inspired by the oldest public hospital in America, this unique medical drama follows the brilliant and charming Dr. Max Goodwin, the institution’s newest medical director, who sets out to tear up the bureaucracy and provide exceptional care. How can he help? Not taking “no” for an answer. Dr. Goodwin must disrupt the status quo and prove he will stop at nothing to breathe new life into this understaffed, underfunded, and underappreciated hospital.” (Catalogue)

Elementary. The final season
“Having lied and confessed to a murder he did not commit in order to protect Watson, Holmes moves back home to London in order to avoid jail time, so Watson follows.” (Catalogue)

Music & Film is back in the CBD at our new Te Awe Library!

Exciting news for Film & Music lovers with large sections of the Wellington Central Library Audio Visual collection now available once again at our newest CBD library, Te Awe, on Panama and Brandon streets.

Some of our DVD collection, as well as a very small CD collection, were previously located in the Arapaki Branch on Manners Street following the closure of the Central Library building. We have added lots of core film titles to the DVDs, greatly expanded the CD collection, and brought them all together in a fresh new location, a cosy corner upstairs at the spacious new Te Awe library.

We have also curated a core collection of ‘Essential Listening’ & ‘Essential Viewing’ titles from our large Central AV collection, many of which are unavailable on streaming services in New Zealand. Watch out for our new blue stickers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

All our ‘Essential Viewing’ & Essential Listening’ titles are taken from titles such as 1001 movies you must see before you die, ‘1001 albums you must hear before you die’ & Nick Bollinger’s 100 essential New Zealand albums. They are also tagged on our catalogue. Just type in ‘Essential Film Viewing’, ‘Essential Television Viewing’ & ‘Essential Listening’ as a search and you can check them out from home, your device, or on our online catalogues in the library.

Details on the library’s location and hours are on the Te Awe branch page. See you there!

Staff Picks – The Best Of 2019: CDs Part 1

While we are looking forward to presenting a larger collection of AV material at our next Pop-up Library, here are some of our Library Staff’s favourite picks from lat year – all of which can be found at our Arapaki Branch on Manners Street.


Neil J’s Picks:
Songs from the bardo / Anderson, Laurie
A deeply Meditative and gorgeous album with Laurie Anderson reading excepts from The Tibetan Book of the Dead over minimalism musical backgrounds some of which are provided by Patti Smith’s daughter Jesse Paris Smith .

Ghosteen / Cave, Nick
On lots of peoples best of 2019 list and rightly so. This is their / his most personal album subtle , carefully crafted and in some aspects experimental without the joyous veneer of drama found in some of the bands previous albums.

Anima. / Yorke, Thom
His third solo album Anima is another interior electro acoustic work. It is one of his most fully realised works one in which he has totally escaped the long shadow of his Radiohead work. Ever since Radiohead’s giant leap into new musical territory with Kid A, Yorke has been exploring the world of what is loosely described as electro acoustic music Anima continues this trend. This album feels like he has fully found his solo voice free from any Radiohead influences.

Flamagra. / Flying Lotus
This album has a lot of everything guest musicians, styles, approaches to the sound. And in some cases this could sound confused and muddled. Where it really comes together is its creative free formed explosion of sounds it is so immersed in pushing the contributor’s creative boundaries that it is impossible to leave out of any best of 2010 list.

Rainford. / Perry, Lee
U Sound’s the legendary dub outfit are behind the latest release from maverick reggae legend Lee “Scratch” Perry. 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.

Shinji’s Picks:
Jaime. / Howard, Brittany
Dedicated to her sister Jaime, who taught her piano and poetry but died young, Alabama Shakes’ lead singer Brittany Howard’s solo effort is a triumph. She presents a very personal, deeply emotional world, touching complex subjects such as mixed-race, sexual minority and religion. However, her remarkable voice and the edgy arrangements make it standout pop music of today.

The gospel according to water. / Henry, Joe
Joe Henry found out that he had stage 4 Prostate cancer late 2018, but only a year down the line, he released this marvellous album. This intimate and compelling collection of songs show that he still has a lot of stories to tell, and will be remembered as his masterpiece. Sublime.

Love will find a way. / Bailey, Philip
What a pleasant surprise! One of the founders of Earth, Wind and Fire, Philip Baily’s first solo release in 17 years is a superb jazz soul album. Employing accomplished jazz musicians on the scene, including Robert Glasper and Kamasi Washington, seems to rejuvenate him and he is leading the charge with his signature falsetto voice. Younger than yesterday.

Kiwanuka. / Kiwanuka, Michael
In his music, there are a lot of retro feelings and the shadows of the likes of Marvin Gaye, Terry Callier, Curtis Mayfield, Bob Dylan and above all Bill Withers. The London soul singer excellently updates the musical essences of these legends and makes it organic yet emotional modern music.

Characters on a wall. / Sclavis, Louis
French clarinetist Louis Sclavis has a long association with ECM records, which celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2019. His 13th album for the label is inspired by the paintings of urban artist Ernest Pignon-Eenest. It’s one of the ESM’s most low-key albums in 2019 but exquisitely executed chamber jazz and gets better with every listen, which is very ECM.

Circuits. / Potter, Chris
One of the most prominent jazz musicians of today, the saxophonist Chris Potter’s new album is not from ECM, where he made his home for last few albums, but a brilliant one. Infusing funk, electronica etc., the album abounds in ample creative energy and features vibrant grooves and intense improvisations. Superb.

The undivided five / Winged Victory for the Sullen
Moving to Ninja Tune was surprising but this ambient duo deepened their well-established cinematic, dream-like music world. From the simple yet intricate compositions, they create the soundscape of shimmering beauty, somewhere between post-classical, drone and ambient.

All encores. / Frahm, Nils
German post-classical, electronica artist Nils Frahm nicely compiles his three EP releases; ‘Encores 1’ (featuring solo piano and harmonium),’Encores 2’ (ambient) and ‘Encores 3’ (dub, house-ish). It makes a great pair with the brilliant 2018 album ‘All Melody’, and showcases his exceptional talent as a sound creator.

Drift series 1 : sampler edition. / Underworld
In November 2018, Underworld set out on a project called ‘Drift’ and released music, videos, essays etc. every week for a year. Now this ambitious project has been completed and published in various mediums. This sampler shows that this veteran duo is still in a top form and offers a joyous listen.

Losst and founnd. / Nilsson, Harry
The wait is over. Harry Nilsson died in 1994 at the age of 52 just after finishing recording new materials, which was never released. This lost gem has finally come out thanks to producer Mark Hudson who did a great job to make it a complete album. The result is a wonderful pop album showcasing ‘classic’ Nilsson world; strong melodies and unique humour. Wish you were here, Harry!

Jonathan’s Picks:
Ghosteen / Cave, Nick
All mirrors. / Olsen, Angel
Designer. / Harding, Aldous
Magdalene. / FKA twigs
Anima. / Yorke, Thom

Sports & Fitness picks for August 2019

This month selection brings quick and diverse workouts that can be done at home using your own body or a chair as well as a memoir, Epic which brings sport’s recent history by Simon Barnes, one of the very best sports writers.
7 Minutes to Fit : 50 anytime, anywhere interval workouts / Klika, Brett
“In 7 Minutes to Fit, the scientific study’s co-author presents 50 all-new high-intensity interval circuits that only require a chair and a timer. Award-winning personal trainer Brett Klika provides step-by-step explanations of basic exercise movements paired with illustrations so readers are ready to perform the workouts. With circuits devoted to full body, arms, legs, and core all wrapped up in a portable package, 7 Minutes to Fit is an at-home personal trainer perfect for busy parents, traveling professionals, or time-strapped students.” (adapted from Catalogue)

The Little Book of Big Workouts / Kelly, Damien
“Every day, people waste their time and hard efforts by doing a random bunch of exercises that in isolations are okay but that just don’t work together to give maximum benefit. In The Little Book of Big Workouts, Damien gives you 31 bespoke workouts to maximise your fitness fast. His unique fitness programs are challenging but achievable for all levels of fitness.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Chair Yoga : sit, stretch, and strengthen your way to a happier, healthier you / McGee, Kristin
Chair Yoga is exactly what it sounds like: exercises you can do sitting down. With this accessible form of yoga, celebrity fitness instructor Kristin McGee takes you through one hundred yoga poses that are easy enough for all ages and levels and will help readers stay active, alert, and healthy.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Eat, Drink, Run / Gordon, Bryony
“Bryony Gordon was not a runner. A loafer, a dawdler, a drinker, a smoker, yes. A runner, no. Yet somehow, as she began to recover from the emotional rollercoaster of laying her life bare in her mental health memoir Mad Girl, she started to realise that getting outside, moving her body and talking to others, might actually help her.” (adapted from Catalogue)

The Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises / Campbell, Adam
“The Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises is the essential workout guide for anyone who wants a better body. As the most comprehensive collection of exercises ever created, this book is a body-shaping power tool for both beginners and long-time lifters alike.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover You Are Your Own Gym, Mark Lauren (ebook)
“From an elite Special Operations physical trainer, an ingeniously simple, rapid-results, do-anywhere program for getting into amazing shape for men and women of all athletic abilities! Armed with Mark Lauren’s motivation techniques, expert training, and nutrition advice, you’ll see rapid results by working out just thirty minutes a day, four times a week–whether in your living room, yard, garage, hotel room, or office.” (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Game, Set and Match, Mark Hodgkinson (ebook)
“A must-read for all tennis fans. The world’s greatest players share their top tips on how to improve your game and become a better player. Reading this book is to feel as though you are receiving personal tuition from the tennis elite, including those who have won Grand Slam titles and held the world number one ranking.Top tips from the pros include: ‘How to disguise your serve’ by Pete Sampras’Being a tennis parent’ by Lynette Federer’How to play a “tweener”‘ by Grigor Dimitrov” (adapted from Catalogue)

The Pilates Bible : the most comprehensive and accessible guide to pilates ever / Robinson, Lynne
“Drawing on the latest medical research, the authors have updated old favorites as well as introduced many new. All can be performed with little or no equipment and The Pilates Bible allows you to progress safely at your own pace. This is truly the one-stop guide for Pilates novices as well as those hoping to consolidate what they already know.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Epic : a 30-year search for the soul of sport / Barnes, Simon
“The greatest sporting moments of the last 30-plus years, as seen through the eyes of Simon Barnes, one of the very best sports writers. This is an autobiography from which the author has been surgically removed. He has reported on six World Cups, seven Olympic Games, cricket on five continents and more than 20 Wimbledons. Epic is a stunning mosaic of some of the greatest sporting moments in recent years, which build up to provide the reader with a better idea of what sport is for, what differentiates winners from losers, and reveals how sport teaches us how better to enjoy life.”(adapted from Catalogue)

Staff Pick DVDs: July Part Two

With the closure of the Cemtral Library our AV loving staff haven’t been sitting idly by. Our first pop up at Arapaki has been open a couple of months and we have been digging into the DVD collection there, watching some old favourites and checking out some new releases. There is a bit of everything here, from modern classics to new docos and TV shows, as well as some brand new titles hot off the processing trolley. Our staff have been watching so much that we’ve had to split it into two lists, part one is here!


Shoplifters
One of the most consistent filmmakers of today, Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda has never made a bad film but his latest work is an exceptional work even by his standard. He questions what family really means by gracefully portraying vulnerable people who live in a shabby house in the edge of society. The narrative is gentle and atmospheric but it’s, in fact, almost Ken Loach-like social realism drama. (Shinji)

Kusama : infinity : the life and art of Yayoi Kusama.
The history, evolution and development of Kusama’s core themes, concepts and the ideas behind her work are well covered. While her conservative upbringing and her life story are covered in this documentary, for me this is one of the film’s weaker elements. By end of this well made and highly informative movie we know a lot about Yayoi Kusama’s art and practice and her position in the modern art world but perhaps a little less about the artist herself. (Neil J)

Ngati
Director Barry Barclay theorised a “fourth cinema” that would be made by indigenous film-makers, from an indigenous perspective with the primary intended audience being indigenous peoples. He achieved his goals with the beautiful Ngāti, the story of a young Australian doctor exploring his Māori heritage. The first feature film to have a Māori writer and director is one of the masterpieces of New Zealand cinema. (Joseph)

Bohemian Rhapsody
This is the biographical story of the life of Freddie Mercury from his youth through to Queen’s 1985 Live Aid performance (of which this movie contains the entire performance). As a matter of course, this has all the wonderful Queen music that we know and love. Giving a wonderful ‘behind the scenes’ look at how they came to write their songs, Raimi Malek is wonderful as Mercury. (Brigid)

Informer
Tense drama as Raza Shar, a young charismatic second generation Pakistani from East London, is coerced by a Counter-Terrorism officer’s DS Gabe Waters (Paddy Considine) and DC Holly Morten’s into going undercover as an informer. As the stakes get higher Raza’s life slowly spins out of control, while Considine’s new partner begins to probe his undercover past and drag up some secrets he’d prefer to stay buried. (Mark)

Annihilation.
The husband of an ex-soldier now biologist goes missing on a deep secret mission in the Shimmer (a mysterious part of the world where strange things happen). Lena’s husband suddenly returns sick and minus his memory, so she and her team must enter the Shimmer to find out what happened. A good story. and reminiscent of The Fog. (Brigid)

Atomic Blonde
Atomic Blonde isn’t just set in cold war Berlin. It’s set in the end of days of cold war Berlin. Which is different. Something is about to happen. I can’t remember if this movie actually features the song Atomic by Blondie. But it doesn’t matter because the whole situation oozes Blondie and Atomic and crumbling trust, following crumbs, spies, hair follicles and sun bleached Charlize Theron as the most powerful American spy. (Tim)

Instant family
A great comedy starring Mark Wahlberg, and Rose Byrne, a professional couple who suddenly realise they are missing something in their lives. Children. After a discussion and doing a course they are all set to become foster parents! When matched with a Spanish-speaking rebellious teenager, they find out she has siblings and Pete and Ellie suddenly go from 0 to 3 children overnight. (Brigid)

The little drummer girl.
Adaptation of the novel by John le Carré, set in the ’70s in which Charlie is recruited by charismatic agent Gadi, to play a part in operation to ensnare a serial bomber for Mossad spymaster Kurtz. A Palestinian terror cell has been responsible for the killing of a number of prominent Jews in western Europe, and the aim of the mission is to embed Charlie within the cell so she can draw out its elusive leader. (Mark)

You were never really here
Lynne Ramsay is a poet of the visual cinema with a distinctive vision – You Were Never Really Here is a real departure in some ways from her previous films. In places it feels like a modern day Taxi Driver and as such it is a powerful, brutal, visceral and violent watch not for the faint hearted. Yet Ramsay’s trademark visual style is still there, only this time it’s the harsh neon city or the sheen of light on blood. (Neil J)

American honey
Shot on warm, saturated film, the viewing experience is an absolute pleasure. The soundtrack rattles with dance pop, 21st century hip-hop and country. The narrative rises and falls, resembling life; full of risk, sorrow and joy. Sasha Lane proves her acting chops in the lead role and Shia LaBeouf delivers his best performance. Director Andrea Arnold has bottled the spirit of youth in these economically precarious times. (Joseph)

The old man & the gun
Based on the story of Forrest Tucker, who had a unique leisurely style of bank robbery and escaped from prison 16 times, director David Lowery turned it into a witty laid-back outlaw tale. The centre of the movie is, of course, Redford who plays Tucker, and it is obvious that he loves playing this character. The chemistry between Redford and legend Sissy Spacek, who plays his love interest, is simply wonderful, and lifts the whole thing to another level. A perfect swansong. (Shinji)

The Happytime Murders
Melissa McCarthy stars in this Brian Henson alternative production about a place where puppets and people live and work together. A detective (McCarthy) is teamed with her ex-partner, a puppet, to investigate a series of murders of puppets from the Happytime movie series. Don’t be fooled by the puppets as this movie is very definitely R rated – most definitely NOT Sesame Street. (Brigid)

Bad times at the El Royale
A group of mysterious strangers show up at a once posh but now slightly run down hotel in the late 1960’s, but it soon becomes apparent that not everything or everyone are who or what they seem. There is much to be enjoyed about ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’ as it has a twisty, compelling plot, it is very stylishly filmed and sports a stellar cast. (Neil J)

Inside Llewyn Davis
The Coen brothers are always a directing duo to watch, and this Oscar Isaac starring feature is one of their finest. Set in the early 60s folk music scene in Greenwich Village, the snow and solemn environments provide the backdrop to the road rambling of a failing folk musician. (Joseph)

Staff Pick DVDs: July Part One

With the closure of the Cemtral Library our AV loving staff haven’t been sitting idly by. Our first pop up at Arapaki has been open a couple of months and we have been digging into the DVD collection there, watching some old favourites and checking out some new releases. There is a bit of everything here, from modern classics to new docos and TV shows, as well as some brand new titles hot off the processing trolley. Our staff have been watching so much that we’ve had to split it into two lists!

Unforgotten. Series 3.
When human remains are found on the central reservation of a motorway near London, DCI Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker), DI Suni Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar) and their team of detectives are assigned the case. A doctor, a television presenter, a failing salesman, and an artist are a close-knit group of old school friends who hold the key to what happened. (Mark)

First man
First Man is a film centred round the build up to the Apollo moon landings and in particular Neil Armstrong. It is a film that both aims to show simultaneously how we touched the stars through these missions and also be a close examination of Armstrong’s personal life. These two cleverly interwoven threads show that his domestic life and his historic role as first man on the moon are in fact part of the same thing. (Neil J)

Wildlife
“I feel like I need to wake up, but I don’t know what from or to”, a housewife named Jeanette, played by Carey Mulligan who is the anchor of the film, tells her son. The actor Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood) has turned director, and his debut feature ‘Wildlife’ is a quiet portrait of the painful process of an idyllic young family gradually falling apart. (Shinji)

Broken
This is based on an early Maori story from the 1800’s when a young girl was murdered by a marauding tribe. The girl always carried the gospel of Luke with her and the book was stolen by the murderer, who read it and was then filled with remorse. Our story starts in present day New Zealand with an ex-gang leader who has pulled out to raise his daughter after the death of his wife. (Brigid)

Lady Bird
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is a marvellously sensitive portrait of teenage-hood, self-discovery, friendship and family. Saoirse Ronan performs excellently in the lead role of a disaffected high-schooler who dreams of going to college in New York. One of the greatest coming of age films to be made, whilst never falling into the traps and tropes of the genre. The dialogue is true; believable, relatable and piercing. (Joseph)

Counterpart. Season one.
Howard Silk is a low-level bureaucrat in a Berlin-based UN agency called the Office of Interchange, where he works exchanging coded call-and-response messages with another agent. However one day all this changes, as he is drafted into an urgent meeting… and finds himself face to face with his double. The ‘other’ Howard now needs this worlds Howard to help with a new mission. (Mark)

The breaker upperers
This is a funny New Zealand movie starring Madeleine Sami and Jackie Van Beek. It is set in Auckland and features many cameos of famous New Zealand actors. The two ladies in question discover they are being two timed by a man, but instead of getting bitter they become friends and set up a company which helps people break up with each other. Great for a laugh. (Brigid)

Vice
If there was ever a movie award for the most perfectly named film then Vice must be a strong candidate to take that prize. It is the story of the unassuming Vice president Dick Cheney and his terrifying and amoral pursuit of power, money and influence ably assisted by his wife Lynne Cheney (the Lady Macbeth of the piece). It is described as a comedy and if you like the darkest type of satire that holds but for many people it will watch as a shocking indictment of American politics. (Neil J)

Summer 1993
Watching the Catalan writer-director Carla Simon’s debut feature ‘Summer 1993’ is like watching the most exquisite home video; very personal yet universal. Based on Simon’s childhood experience, it follows 6-year-old Frida who is moved from Barcelona to Catalan countryside to live with her aunt and uncle after her mother’s death. Avoiding dramatization, it’s a sensitively crafted, beautiful filmic memoir. (Shinji)

Searching
After David Kim’s (John Cho) 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a local investigation is opened. 37 hours later and without a single lead, David decides to search the one place no one has looked yet…online. A thriller told exclusively via screen shots seems like a total bore, but this hyper-modern thriller utilises character dialogue recorded through webcams, apps, security camera footage, as well as key moments portrayed through YouTube clips to generate as much suspense as a traditional narrative. (Mark)

Finding your feet
Great movie with a superb cast including Celia Imrie, Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall, Joanna Lumley. When Lady Sandra Abbot discovers that her husband has been having a long term affair with her best friend she leaves and renews her friendship with her sister (Celia Imrie). These two make an unlikely pair and with time, love and lots of laughs Lady Sandra starts to discover herself and life and love again. It is a funny movie but does have some sad and poignant moments in it. (Brigid)

Ryuichi Sakamoto : CODA
How do great artists face their own mortality? These huge questions rather than a career overview is what you get in this poignant documentary about the iconic Japanese musician, Ryuichi Sakamoto. This film is almost a meditation on Ryuichi Sakamoto’s current creativity, a powerful and moving piece delivered in a gentle and sad way. (Neil J)

Lean on Pete
This film is about a 15-year-old boy, Charlie, who lives in poverty and runs away with a racehorse he takes care of to save it from the slaughterhouse. Blending a human-animal special bond story with a road movie and a coming of age tale, the movie shows a harsh slice of America; a dysfunctional family, poverty, placelessness etc., and a lot of events – mostly unfortunate, tormenting ones – unfold. (Shinji)

Sorry to bother you
This is an unusual story set in an alternative reality version of Oakland, where a poor but ambitious salesman starts working as a telemarketer. Cassius Green finds he has a real gift for sales and has a meteoric rise in the company. However, Cassius discovers his workplace is not what he thinks it is when he accidentally enters the wrong door. A very unusual story. (Brigid)

Frances Ha
Greta Gerwig stars as the loveable and exasperating Frances as she rambles through New York, facing technical homelessness and creative frustration. A tale of optimism in the face of adversity. The black and white cinematography is virtuosic and deeply satisfying. (Joseph)

The guilty
Alarm dispatcher and sidelined police officer, Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren) answers an emergency call from a woman, that he soon ascertains has been kidnapped. When the call is suddenly disconnected, the search for the woman begins. With the phone as his only tool, Asger enters a race against time to save the endangered woman, but soon realises that there is more to the situation that first appears. (Mark)
[/booklist]

Staff Pick CDs: July

Here are some Staff Picks CDs from our collection at our new Arapaki Branch on Manners Street.

Anoyo. / Hecker, Tim
If you read Carlo Rovelli’s incredible book, ‘The Order of Time’, you will learn that the force that drives the universe is not energy but entropy, and ‘Konoyo’, the ninth record from Canadian electronic artist Tim Hecker, is a sublimely beautiful work that could be heard as a soundtrack to that ever inexorable process of decay. Like lifting a veil to expose atomic and sub atomic processes at work, this grand, complex and absorbing music is quite unlike anything else, including previous Tim Hecker records. The source material is provided by a Japanese Gagaku ensemble playing some of the most ancient instruments known, and it’s highly appropriate that this was recorded in Japan, as, if one closes one’s eyes, it is almost possible to see the cherry blossoms drifting away on the spring breeze. A few months later he released the accompanying ‘Anoyo’. Konoyo translates as ‘this world’ and anoyo as ‘the other world’ and the second release reflects that meaning, featuring six spacious and ambient pieces titled “That World”, “Is But A Simulated Blur”, “Step Away From Konoyo”, “Into the Void”, “Not Alone”, “You Never Were” if you get the drift. (John)

>>>. / Beak>
This is the third record from the krautrock project of Portishead’s Geoff Barrow (the first was ‘>’ and the second ‘>>’) and features music quite unlike any other. Metronomic drumming, ominous synths, glitchy electronics, deep vocals, throbbing basslines, processed strings, sci-fi keyboards and much more all feature in various combinations across ten tracks to create something otherworldly and quite engrossing. (John)

Coltrane ’58 : the Prestige recordings. / Coltrane, John
This release features all 37 tracks (across 5-discs) that saxophonist John Coltrane recorded as a leader or co-leader for the independent Prestige Records label in the twelve months of the year 1958 – which when released would comprise 8 albums in his discography. After finally cleaning up his drug & alcohol addiction in 1957, the period that followed saw him working and recording with pianist Thelonious Monk, whose unique compositions were an influence on Coltrane. Spilling over with new musical ideas and possibilities, Coltrane choose a series of old ballads & standards to see how far his new style and improvisational techniques could push against the traditional structure of existing tunes. The Prestige years are one of the distinctive periods in his career in which he honed a beautifully full & rich style, fast and slashing, yet tender and poignant, which Jazz journalist Ira Gitler would famously dub “sheets of sound”. These tracks are all remastered from the original analog tapes and the box includes extensive liner notes by Grammy-winning American music historian Ashley Kahn. A great box containing some of Coltrane’s most iconic albums. (Mark)

Bitter sweet / Ferry, Bryan
Bryan Ferry is a clever chap and a genuine artist and here he recreates a selection of tunes from his extensive back catalogue in the big band style of the 1920’s. What could too easily be regarded as a gimmick turns out to be anything but as these tunes take on a strange and mysterious new lustre when interpreted via Duke Ellington style trumpets, Sidney Bechet style clarinet and the Kurt Weill homage of the title track that even includes a line in German. Bryan Ferry’s voice has matured into that of a classic crooner and carries this project off perfectly. As the cover notes state: “This art recognises that the past was once our present, even our future, and this moment too shall melt away into the past”. (John)

Double negative. / Low
This really should have made it to the library ‘2018 Best of’ as it featured on pretty much every other best of list, and rightly so. After maintaining cult status for 25 years, the US indie trio appear to have now become famous on the strength of this, their 12th album. Ironically, this is the record on which they have taken things a step beyond, slowing their famous minimalist ‘slowcore’ sound down a notch even further and incorporating glitched out dissonant electronics and loops to produce the distorted, frazzled edges of things dissipating into the ether – an approach that has been recognised by both critics and audiences as highly appropriate for our current times. There are still lovely songs here to be found though within a superb, audacious, and deeply atmospheric contemporary indie record. (John)

Why hasn’t everything already disappeared? / Deerhunter
Bradford Cox leads his band through their eighth album with a collection of thoughtful and confident songs, building on the radio-rock direction of their previous release ‘Fading Frontier’. Co-produced by Cate Le Bon, who contributes some guest vocals and instrumentation, this album finds an excellent balance between the experimental sounds of their early releases and the slightly more user friendly approach of the later albums. The result is an excellent take on, for want of a better word, pop, but a distinctive and mature version of that genre, incorporating all of the elements one may expect from this highly creative band. (John)

Some rap songs. / Sweatshirt, Earl
Among the Tswana people of South Africa, the composition of the “praise poem” in honour of chiefs and important figures has traditionally been a part of the ritual initiation of boys. On Some Rap Songs, Earl Sweatshirt reflects on his recently deceased father, the South African poet Keorapetse Kgositsile. In many ways, this album constitutes the 25 year old Earl’s praise poem to his father. The album is a sprawling journey through Earl’s psyche as he grapples with his recent grief and also his past experiences with anxiety and depression, seemingly finding cathartic closure. Earl’s voice is magnetic and mesmerising with its often simple cadence and bouncing syncopation. The album is built around tightly-looped soul and jazz samples by the likes of Curtis Mayfield. Far from its ironically self-effacing title, Some Rap Songs is an innovative masterwork. (Joseph)

DJ-kicks : Robert Hood.
The Detroit techno veteran, a founding member of Underground Resistance and who pretty much laid down the template for minimal techno with his 1994 release ‘Minimal Nation’, finally gets around to a DJ Kicks entry. Discretely acknowledging that interest in the minimal sub-genre is on the wane, here the sound is bigger and more banging than may be expected as he seamlessly mixes from one well curated driving floor filler to the next, including Berghain favorites such as Truncate and Marcel Fengler, in addition to U.K. techno mainstays like Slam and Mark Broom. Listeners either enjoy techno or they don’t, and for fans this is a solid, focused and satisfying mix, while for the curious this would be a good introduction. (John)

Future ruins. / Swervedriver
The UK band that sat on the rockier edge of the early ‘90’s shoegaze movement made a welcome return in 2015 after an 18 year hiatus, receiving favourable reviews for their fifth album, “I Wasn’t Born To Lose You”. “Future Ruins” is their sixth and the second of their ‘comeback’ albums and finds them in an assured mode, forging their warm, driving, melodic rock with great confidence. Its great hearing a band regaining their stride after such a long break and with this record they could very well find a fresh audience for their lovely harmonies, propulsive rhythms and vast guitar swathes. (John)

Echoes in blue. / City Calm Down
For some odd reason OZ bands rarely bridge the Tasman very well, which is unfortunate because, well, everyone misses out. City Calm Down are pretty big in OZ, headlining festivals and selling out tours, and this, their second album, is a great introduction. They are an obviously ‘80’s influenced band, which is not necessarily a bad thing, paying homage to Ian McCullough’s heartfelt vocals for Echo and the Bunnymen and New Order’s upper register bass lines and brooding synths. Their songs are suitably morose reflections on 21st Century life that potentially offer similar comfort that the early ‘80’s indie bands offered the first wave of indie rockers. (John)

You’re the man. / Gaye, Marvin
Marvin Gaye’s ‘lost album’ between two mega hit masterpieces ‘What’s Going On’ (1971) and ‘Let’s Get It On’ (1973) should excite a lot of music fans. Although some of the songs here have made it out in various forms before, the full album (plus some extra tracks) appears for the first time. He was at his peak after the success of ‘What’s Going On’ but very apprehensive at the same time, and a lack of the cohesion on this CD may show it. However, the quality of the songs and his distinguished vocal style are nothing short of brilliant and timeless. 47 years down the line, “You’re The Man’ can only emphasise how great Marvin Gaye is. (Shinji)

A tree with roots : Fairport Convention & friends and the songs of Bob Dylan. / Fairport Convention
An interesting compilation that gathers all of the cover versions UK folk rockers Fairport Convention performed of Bob Dylan songs. Including live recordings, John Peel Sessions and studio recordings, the songs are all from the ‘70’s and most feature Sandy Denny. The cover notes are comprehensive and clearly illustrate what a surprising influence Bob Dylan had on the UK folk revival. The performances are great and it is fascinating to hear these songs, firmly placed as they are in Americana, performed by a band that were central to the UK folk revival. This not only shows that cultural boundaries are far more fluid than often perceived but is also a keen reminder that the distant roots of Americana were actually folk songs taken to the USA by early settlers from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. What goes around truly does come around. Track 7, “Percy’s Song” is a great illustration of this. (John)
[/booklist]

The latest books for sports training and recovery

Some of the books featured here contain personalized nutrition advice for all stages of sports training and recovery, some contain meal plans, and others feature yoga exercises to build a rock-solid fitness foundation for building lean muscle where you need it most, strengthen bone, and boost power and endurance. No matter what your sport is–running, cycling, field sports, triathlons–these books will empower you with the nutrition and fitness knowledge you need to be in the healthiest, fittest, strongest shape of your life.

Fascial Fitness Through Yoga : with a comprehensive catalogue of exercises and the fascia salutation / Brinkmann, Katharina
Fascia Fitness Through Yoga is an innovative combination of two major fitness trends – yoga and fascia training. If you want to live a healthy, mobile and pain-free life, it is essential that you take good care of your fascia, otherwise it will become matted and stick together as you age as a result of repetitive one-sided stressors, making us immobile and stiff. Yoga is an ideal form of fascia training, and renowned author and sports therapist Katharina Brinkmann has provided a dynamic, invigorating approach to it.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Pretty Intense : the 90-day mind, body and food plan that will absolutely change your life! / Patrick, Danica
“America’s NASCAR standout offers a 90-day program to sculpt your body, calm your mind, and achieve your greatest goals. Everything Danica Patrick does is Pretty Intense. A top athlete in her field, not to mention a fan favorite and the first woman to rule in her male-dominated sport, Danica approaches every aspect of life with the utmost intensity. Now, she shows you how you can apply her daily principles and transform your life for the better–and have fun while doing it.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Yogafit Athlete : up your game with sport-specific poses to build strength, flexibility, and balance / Shaw, Beth
“Bring the strength and breathing power of yoga to the sports you love–and seriously up your game! Yoga routines designed specifically for swimming, running, cycling, golf, tennis, baseball, football, volleyball, basketball, skiing, snowboarding, weight lifting, kickboxing, boxing, CrossFit, and more! “Your body can either help you achieve your goals or get in the way of you living your best life. By practicing yoga and meditation, you can make your body work with you, not against you.”–Beth Shaw. By adding a quick yoga routine to any workout, you will increase your overall strength and health, and achieve your personal best.” Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

No Meat Athlete : run on plants and discover your fittest, fastest, happiest self / Frazier, Matt
No Meat Athlete is a unique guidebook, healthy-living cookbook, and nutrition primer for the beginner, every day, and serious athlete who wants to live a meatless lifestyle. The manual provides training plans for common race distances and shows runners how to create healthy habits, improve performance, and avoid injuries.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Thrive Fitness [electronic resource] / Brazier, Brendan
“Brendan Brazier is a professional Ironman triathlete, a two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion, and the bestselling author of The Thrive Diet. Now, in an easy-to-apply system for everyone, he shares his ground-breaking approach to fitness and how you can gain maximum results in minimal time.”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover 101 Get-Lean Workouts and Strategies, Muscle & Fitness (ebook)
“Packed with cutting-edge training programs that are backed by scientific research and proven by professional trainers and athletes, this workbook provides the very best fat-burning workouts. Containing numerous fitness regimens, this book provides the step-by-step instructions necessary to effectively shed fat and to get into optimal shape.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Roar : how to match your food and fitness to your female physiology for optimum performance, great health, and a strong, lean body for life / Sims, Stacy T
“Women are not small men. Stop eating and training like one. ROAR is a comprehensive, physiology-based nutrition and training guide specifically designed for active women. This book teaches you everything you need to know to adapt your nutrition, hydration, and training to your unique physiology so you can work with, rather than against, your female physiology.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The World’s Fittest Book : how to train for anything and everything, anywhere and everywhere / Edgley, Ross
“Ross Edgley has spent the last ten years on a global fitness pilgrimage, unlocking the secrets of some of the greatest minds and bodies in sporting history. Packed with workouts he’s tried and tested in pursuit of multiple world records, this is more than a book – it’s the greatest training tool ever written!” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Staff Picks DVDs: Best of 2018

Some more of our favourite Films & TV Shows from last year. Hopefully you will something you missed the first time around.

Shinji’s Picks:
Faces places.
This is a celebration of people and places as well as creativity. A legend of French new wave cinema, 88 year old Agnes Varda teams up with a photographer and muralist JR, who is 55 years her junior, to hit the road on a tour of rural France. On the way, they learn the histories of communities, some of which are long abandoned, and of people they encounter, and bring new lives to them with gigantic mural photos. This odd couple makes a great team and their friendship, curiosity and vision make it wonderfully charming. Life is beautiful.

Leave no trace.
A remarkable new film from an American indie filmmaker Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone), ‘Leave No Trace’ is a subtle but powerful portrait of a post-traumatic-stress-disorder father and his teenage daughter, who cut themselves off from the world and have been living in the forests. Featuring the superb performances by Ben Forster and our very own Thomasin Mckenzie as the father and the daughter, Granik carefully presents just enough information and gracefully brings out deep emotions between them. This haunting tale will be remembered one of the best father-daughter relationship films in years to come.

The other side of hope
Seeing just one frame of a film, you can tell whose work it is. It doesn’t happen very often but Finnish veteran auteur Aki Kaurismaki is such a filmmaker. ‘The Other Side of Hope’, which nicely integrates stories of a Syrian refugee and a Finnish restaurateur, is his response to the humanitarian crisis in Europe. It treats the serious topic with warm humanism; it’s presented with his distinctive style; deadpan characters, droll humours, unique texture and hue based on blue, bluesy nostalgic rock played by old men etc. This is another memorable work but what is believed to be his final film. What a shame.

Sweet country.
The new Australian auteur Warwick Thornton’s marvellous ‘Sweet Country’ dominated the Australian Academy Awards (AACTA) of 2018, winning 6 awards including the best film, director, cinematography and actor. In the typical western-like setting, this manhunt drama exposes the dark side of Australian history; racism. It’s uneasy to watch at times but taking the majestic outback scenery as a part of narrative, it offers lyrical, mesmerising moments as well. Unique flash-forwards are also very effective. Poignant.

Lady Bird.
Actress-turned-writer/director Greta Gerwig’s first feature is a lovely adolescent tale.
With the mother-daughter relationship as its core, it’s about a17-year-old Christine ‘Lady Bird’ (dazzling Saoirse Ronan) who is eager for an escape to a big city after graduating from a Catholic school. Gerwig’s smart screenplay and unique aesthetic make it a charming, beautifully layered coming-of-age drama. It’s sweet, funny and affecting.

Blackkklansman.
Ironically the current state of the divided America seems to get Spike Lee; arguably the most important African-American filmmakers of our time, back in top form. This, his finest film in years, tells the incredible true story of the first black detective in the Colorado Spring, who infiltrated the KKK in the early 70s. This is heavy stuff and not surprisingly, it contains chilling moments, but Lee masterfully put them into a comedic narrative, and makes it a gripping yet entertaining drama. Denzel Washington’s son John David Washington shines as the detective. Invigorating.

Twin Peaks: a limited event series.
David Lynch’s ground-breaking series is back after 25 years’ absence, and it’s a much larger scaled extraordinary journey, which offers everything Lynch has made for cinema. At times it’s almost impossible to comprehend and mysteries bring more mysteries, but there are always humours. This nearly 1000-hours marathon epic can be challenging and demanding to consume, but gives you a joyous, rewarding watch. It’s another landmark work by this one-and-only filmmaker.

Neil J’s Picks:
Lucky.
Lucky was Harry Dean Stanton’s last work, it’s a wry and very deceptive piece. On the surface nothing that much happens it’s just a couple of days in the life of a fictional Harry Dean Stanton; true they are quirky, laconic and slightly strange days . However whilst the film is slender in narrative it is large in underlying meaning and through this strange domesticity of the main characters life the movie becomes a poignant meditation on life, memory, loss, accepting fate and coming to terms with one’s impending demise, all done in a light offbeat fashion. It is a truly marvellous performance by Harry Dean Stanton it might even just be his career best and all made the more remarkable since he was aware that this would probably be his last film. Which it turned out to be.

Lady Bird.

 

 

 

The death of Stalin.
Caustic, pitch black humour of the highest calibre is delivered in Armando Iannucci latest comedy. Set around the events and chaos surrounding the death of Stalin this star studded movie was so controversial that the Russian government banned it. Its wicked, hilarious, merciless and definitely not for the faint hearted. However if you enjoy satire of the very darkest and blackest in nature then this movie is a must watch. And the ever wonderful Jason Isaacs is mercurial as Field Marshal Zhukov.

Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.
The starting point and in a strange way the catalyst for all the action in the film are three billboards by a road put up by a grieving mother with messages demanding justice for her murdered daughter. This multi award winning movie is occasionally funny, but more often it’s a bleak, raw look at loss, grief and vengeance. It boasts several fantastic performances from the lead Frances McDormand as well as Woody Harrelson, Peter Dinklage and several other cast members. It doesn’t take the easy path plot wise and contains several unexpected twists and turns. All in all the plaudits that have been heaped on it are well deserved.

Faces places.

 

 

 

McQueen.
McQueen is a career spanning but intimate documentary exploring the life and work of the iconic British fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Mc Queen rose from humble beginnings to become the enfant terrible of the fashion world his initial rise was I through hard work, native ability, desire to shock and raw talent. ( Though he did get more formal training as he went along ). He was the bright burning super star of the fashion world creating his own fashion house and courting controversy everywhere he showed, His fashion work was often closely inter linked with his own inner demons which were eventually rise up and tragically destroy him. The documentary makes for a fascinating, riveting watch and is a real insight into what drove and created one of the most important and controversial fashion designers of our time.

She shears
It goes without saying that in some areas of New Zealand sheep searing is an obsession, but historically this obsession has always been a very male dominated one. She Sears is a fabulous compelling documentary about a very small group of women shearers trying to break that mould. However what really makes this film work is the fact that it transcends its subject matter the film is far more than just a look at female shearers, it’s more about the shearers as complex individuals, as fully rounded people who shear for a whole range of different reasons, their back stories, their motivations, their drivers both as shears and beyond and the reasons they do what they do. It’s a great watch, a really well-crafted film and like any good documentary less about shearing and more the individuals involved.

Mark’s Picks:
The Good Place. The complete first season.
What actually happens when you die? For Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) she finds the afterlife is a shiny happy friendly neighbourhood of frozen yogurt shops, amazingly accomplished people and pre-determined soulmates, all run by the super nice immortal architect Michael (Ted Danson). However the only problem is that she is the wrong Eleanor Shellstrop, and is in fact a very bad person, who scammed old people for a living and generally lived a completely reprehensible life. As she struggles to hide her true self from all around her and cope with her ‘soulmate’, university ethics professor Chidi, her true nature starts to affect the cosmic balance at play. Currently the funniest show on TV. Just genius.

Radius.
A man (Diego Klattenhoff, Homeland, The Blacklist) wakes from a car crash with no memory. Seeking help he soon discovers that anyone who comes within a certain radius of him instantly drops dead. Retreating to his home he attempts to avoid all contact until a woman (also suffering from amnesia) finds him. She is immune to what is happening and they soon realize that she can nullify the effect he has on others – but ONLY if she remains within 50 feet from him at all times. Together they attempt to get help and find out what has happened to them. The best indie Sci-Fi of the year proves that all you need is a really intriguing idea and a good script. Continue reading “Staff Picks DVDs: Best of 2018”

Staff Picks CDs: Best of 2018 -Part 2

Some more of our favourite sounds from last year. Hopefully you will find a new artist to explore, or something you missed the first time around.

Neil J’s Picks:
Ponguru / Al Fraser, Phil Boniface.
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.

Tranquility Base hotel + casino.
Sometimes bands find it difficult to stay fresh and new musically especially after initial massive success. This however has never been a problem for the Artic Monkeys. And Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino there sixth album is easily their densest, most experimental and carefully crafted release to date. In this work they’ve invented their own brand of psychedelia. It’s like the bands own musical reaction to 60’s and 70’s science fiction films like Silent Running or 2001 a space Odyssey in places it does sound like an Alex Turner solo album. All in all it’s a brave and interesting and in places an exhilarating new direction for a band who have never sat on their laurels and are constantly in search of somewhere else to go.

Future me hates me / The Beths.
The Beths are at the moment the hottest band in New Zealand. No less than The Rolling stone magazine listed them in their top 100 bands to watch out for and described their album The future me hates me as a “ power pop monument’ . So what’s all the fuss about? It’s true that the power pop format is a tried and tested formula that has been done many times before, but the Beths bring a joyous ear worm infectiousness and exuberance to the party making The future me hates me sound not only new and fresh but fun and bright and it’s this attitude and approach to the music that’s carrying all before them.

Singularity.
Singularity is defined in the Oxford English dictionary as: “A point at which a function takes an infinite value, especially in space–time when matter is infinitely dense, such as at the centre of a black hole.” Now that’s a big concept to get your head round but it does serve as a superb road into Singularity the fifth album by Jon Hopkins. Singularity the album is a vast self-visualised glacial electronic landscape or even cosmos of an album. There’s ambient elements in it, there’s acid house elements in it , there’s certainly beats in there but through it all is a singular unique vision and a real feeling that Hopkin’s is on a trace like sonic journey of discovery that reaches inwards and outwards at the same time.

I can feel you creep into my private life.
For this reviewer one of the most interesting and important releases of 2018 was I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life by tUnE-yArDs (aka Merrill Garbus).The album is an extension of her previous works which at its core fuses solid rhythmic structure, influenced in places by dance music with lyrics that are simultaneously personal and global and definitely contain a radical political overtone. In many ways for this reviewer it was the album that summarised the spirit of our age its Zeitgeist.

Here if you listen / David Crosby, Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis, Michael League.
In 1982 David Cosby had fallen far, his personal life and finances were in ruin. He was struggling with very serious drug and alcohol abuse problems and was to spent nine months of that year in a Texas prison on cocaine and heroin charges. Yet in the late 60s and early 70’s he had been one of the brightest and biggest creative forces in the hippie folk rock movement. Since then he has had a liver transplant that was paid for by Phil Collins and slowly and gradually rebuilt his life and career welding these dark moments of his life as all true artists do into his work. His 2014 solo album Croz was amongst his finest work. And just recently he released Here If You Listen. It’s a beautiful piece of work, melodic, contemplative, and melancholic at times, uplifting at times occasionally touching the darkness of his past sometimes the light it finds Crosby meditating on his own death . For me this is one of David Crosby’s essential works and ranks up there with his 1971 death of the hippy dream album If I Could Only Remember My Name.

My design, on others’ lives.
It must be one of the most difficult gigs a musician can do. Being the warm up act to a huge star who hasn’t toured for ages and has legions of passionate fans. Estere’s support slot for Grace Jones in Queenstown was a stunning success for this new artist. She handled her time with poise and aplomb gaining a fair few fans in the process. Her self-produced debut album is a lush hybrid beast, a unique combination of sonic elements from pop/jazz melodies to sensual electronica and serious rhythmic cores. She also has a beautiful soaring voice and a fine turn in lyrics, and whilst it is definitely a mainstream album it certainly has some experimental leanings too. This album marks the entrance of a vibrant new voice and sounds to this reviewer, like the kind of album a future superstar would release.

Aviary.
Julia Holter’s fifth studio Aviary is a dazzling nonlinear joyous sprawl of a work. She says she was inspired to create it from a line in a book by Lebanese-American writer Etel Adnan—“I found myself in an aviary full of shrieking birds”. It simultaneously exudes chaos and calm, structure and randomness there is occasionally the slightest hint of the more experimental Kate Bush about it. It’s a menagerie of sonically beautiful moments swarming and swirling around in some sort of abstract obtuse sonic prayer conceived and created by the artist.

The gristle of knuckles.
Eve de Castro-Robinson is one of New Zealand’s foremost composers and performers amongst her numerous prizes and awards she won The 2018 Best Classical Artist/ Te Kaipuoro Inamata Toa at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. The award was in part a recognition of her most recent work The Gristle of Knuckles .However The Gristle of Knuckles is far from a solo creative work it features a whole raft of collaborators who took Eve’s original compositions as their starting point and reimagined the pieces in their own way. There’s a real diversity to the range of pieces, yet the finished album sounds totally unified and cohesive thanks in no small part to the fabulous production work of Steve Garden. It’s a work classified as classical but in reality it defies genre categories. The pieces range sonically from powerful and muscular to intimate and vulnerable yet thought out the whole piece there’s a real air of exuberant, free spirited experimentation.

Mark’s Picks:
Record.
Tracey Thorn returns with another album of mature pop, her female worldview taking on the on-going struggle for equality (Sister), musical beginnings (Guitar), motherhood (Babies) & the impact of Social Media (Face). Beats merge with the sombre, and her ageless voice never loses its warmth.

Honey.
The Queen of melancholy dance beats returns with her first proper album in 8 years. Repeated plays reveal the interlocking layers of the tracks with overlapping lyrics, melodies and themes. Motivated by the tragic death of friend and collaborator, producer Christian Falk, the breakup of a relationship and several years of intense therapy, this release sees her following her own path once again.

Best local CD & Vinyl releases:
A quiet divide.
Rhian Sheehan returns with a cinematic album that melds post-rock soundscapes with lush ambient warmth, creating an emotional journey in a cascading series of beautiful and reflective moods. Lovely.

 

Mirror.
A wonderful combination of strange Jazz sounds, funky guitar, Swirling vocals, weird noises.

 

 

My design, on others’ lives.

 

 

 

Raconteur / The Frank Burkitt Band.
A musical-meld of influences from both continents – UK folk meets American bluegrass/Western Swing, with touches of his early Jazz influences. From toe tapping workouts to sincere ballads, all the seemingly disparate elements combine into a thoroughly enjoyable set of melodic narratives. It all seems effortless and simple but that belies the skill of his tight backing band, the consistently high levels of song writing and the sophisticated arrangements. No surprise it picked up a Tui for Best Folk album.

Too many millionaires.
The first all-acoustic album for Darren Watson is an artistic triumph on every level. Watson has always been a champion of the underdog, whether in the context of love or social commentary, and his authentic, pointed and gritty songs traverse the songwriting spectrum from the personal to the political.

We light fire.
Six years is a long time in the ever shifting music world and the catchy guitar pop of her last album Modern Fables has shifted into a heavier synth based sound with more layers of production on the tracks. But all the flourishes don’t detract from another set of great songs and that amazingly powerful voice, with its crystal clear range. Beginning with a slow ballad ‘Clandestine’ the album builds up, as gentle guitar strings alternate with washes of synth and grungier beats. Most albums taper off but all the best tracks are stacked towards the end.

Nine centuries.
Third album from Wgtn’s top Metallers marks Bulletbelt’s final album with vocalist Jolene Tempest and guitarist Seth Jackson, who left after the album had been recorded. Guests include Midnight’s Vanik, (solo on Cloak the Night), and Massacre vocalist Kam Lee (vocals on ‘Show Me Your Throat). Lyrically the album focuses on the witch trials of the Dark Ages, the examination of such brutal & violent themes paying off with some intense and aggressive tracks. A punk energy in a Metal framework, raw and powerful.

Seeing things.
Most bands first albums are the result of many years hard work, often resulting in the pinnacle of their sound – which subsequent albums then try to recapture. It’s a rare band that grows better with each release, but Eb & Sparrow were in that category. ‘Seeing things’ shifts their sound from Country/Americana of the first few releases into a more sophisticated lush soundscape. The lap steels are replaced with a more shimmery guitar sound that evokes the languid lines of The Cowboy Junkies or Mazzy Star, all focused around Ebony Lamb’s burnished vocals. A beautiful collection of songs that finds you reaching for the repeat button as soon as the last track fades out.

The hill temple.VINYL
Awesome new album from the ‘witches’ of Hex, with new cohort Jason Erskine. Beautifully soaring harmonies, delicious melodies, crunching guitar lines. All the best elements of indie rock surrounded by a fierce female empowerment aesthetic. Bewitching.

 

Like splitting the head from the body.VINYL
The debut full length album from the fabulous Womb. Every track swirls in and out of beautiful dreamy vocals and layers of languid guitar and synth lines. Music with a sense of grandeur that uplifts the listener on swelling waves of lush sound. Completely sublime.

 

Axels’s Picks:
How to solve our human problems.
Melancholic. Intimate. Pop.

 

 

Jassbusters.
Groovy. Soulful. Eccentric.

 

 

Tell me how you really feel.
Genuine. Stoner. Raucous.

 

 

Sex & food.
Vintage. Mind-altered. Catchy.

 

 

Marble skies.
Melody. Harmony. Energy.

 

 

Nothing is still.
Emotional. Ambient. Deep.

 

 

All melody.
Experimental. Gentle. Sentimental.

 

 

Snow bound/ The Chills.
Uplifting. Bright. Easy peasy.

 

 

Isle of dogs : original soundtrack / music composed by Alexandre Desplat.
Instrumental. Rhythmic. Quirky.

 

 

Suspiria : music for the Luca Guadagnino film.
Ominous. Atmospheric. Hypnotic.

 

 

Make way for love.
Sensitive. Bittersweet. Mellow. Continue reading “Staff Picks CDs: Best of 2018 -Part 2”

Staff Picks CDs: Best of 2018 -Part 1

A round-up of our favourite sounds from last year. Hopefully you will find a new artist to explore, or something you missed the first time around.

John’s Picks:
Konoyo.
The ninth record from Canadian electronic artist Tim Hecker is a sublimely beautiful work that sounds like lifting a veil to expose atomic and sub atomic processes at work, and is quite unlike anything else, including the previous Tim Hecker records.

 

Brainfeeder X : a 36-track compilation showcasing the past, present and future of the label.
With influences ranging across jazz, hip-hop, r ’n’ b, house, and electronica, the Brainfeeder sound is genuinely ground-breaking and this tenth anniversary double disc set shows why the label has grown from a small L.A. based underdog into a global cult phenomenon.

Wide awaaaaake!
The post punk influences are still plentiful, but the new album has a gloss of production that manages to expand their musical palette without losing the bands’ angular garage rock stance.

 

7.
Their most immersive, and possibly their most engaging, album to date with the usual gentle drum programming replaced by a thunderous live drummer that helps move this record into the deeper realms of dream pop inhabited by bands such as My Bloody Valentine.

 

Music for installations.
Brian Eno re-affirms his standing as the Grand Master of ambience with a stunning six disc set filled with gorgeous washes of bells and drones and unidentifiable luminous shimmers moving across widescreen stereo fields, beautiful, always different, yet always the same.

 

No sounds are out of bounds / The Orb.
The driving dub bass lines that propel each track are the only constants over a record that touches many bases, all peppered with The Orb’s distinctive humorous vocal samples, to create, arguably, the most commercially accessible and one of the best releases of their long and befuddling career.

 

Listening to pictures : pentimento volume one.
The former jazz trumpet player, who initiated the idea of the “Fourth World” alongside Brian Eno on 1980’s ‘Possible Musics’, has released, at 81 years old, a remarkable record when most others so long into their career are merely re-treading old ground.

 

The loneliest girl.
Difficult to pin down, AK pop chanteuse Chelsea Nikkel confounds with her fourth album of thoughtfully produced bitter sweet songs within which lurks a deceptively subversive baroque take on the pop format that is entertaining from start to finish.

 

The animal spirits / James Holden & the Animal Spirits.
UK electronic producer James Holden has been pushing the boundaries of electronica for most of his career and his most recent album, recorded live in the studio, treads a path far more akin to the wild transcendence of free jazz greats such as Pharaoh Sanders than any current electronic artists.

 

Infinite moment / The Field.
Swedish electronic producer Axel Willner, aka The Field, continues his musical pilgrimage chasing endless repetitive loops to an infinite beyond, creating a masterful album by one of the most original electronic producers active today.

 

Bottle it in.
Kurt Vile’s highly characteristic slacker Americana has by now become expertly crafted and, via the unusual sense of intimacy he is able to create, he maintains interest throughout this long album, which validates his cultural niche as the new millennium’s equivalent of artists such as R.E.M and Neil Young.

Suspiria : music for the Luca Guadagnino film.
This is definitely not sunday bar-b-que music, but the fine orchestral and choral arrangements, the creepy electronica and the gentle, sad, guitar based songs make for some great late night uneasy listening.

 

Toitū te pūoro.
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.

 

Shearwater drift / Al Fraser, Steve Burridge, Neil Johnstone.
A fully immersive sonic collage that, over 18 tracks, 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.

Collapse.
This five track ep is the latest in a series of EPs that have followed Aphex Twin’s triumphant 2014 return with the album ‘Syro’ and is his most familiar so far, bearing all of the hallmarks of classic Aphex Twin electronica – frantic stuttered beats, rubbery bass lines, beautiful submerged melodies, evocative vocal samples and complex shifting arrangements.

Switched on volumes 1-3.
The UK post-rock pioneers, who have been on indefinite hiatus since 2010, are well on the way to becoming a cult band, with a worldwide dedicated fan base who refuse to accept that they are no more and re-releases like this help keep their myth alive, collecting the band’s three ‘90’s compilations of singles and rarities in one nifty box set.

Singles 1978-2016 / The Fall.
Made especially relevant by Mark E Smith’s 2018 demise, this excellent box set compiles, over seven discs, every single – both A and B sides – from one of the greatest indie bands ever – The Fall.

 

 

 

 

Enclosures 2011-2016.
South Island electronic composer Clinton Williams, aka Omit, is considered by many to be the perfect reclusive genius and this beautifully presented five disc box set, with a written intro from Bruce Russell, contains Omit’s most recent output, previously released as limited run CDRs all hand made by the artist.

The dreaming [2018].
‘The Dreaming’ was her fourth record sitting right in the middle of her transition from ‘pop star’ to ‘serious artist’ and both audiences and critics were slightly baffled at the time (it is referred to as her ‘mad’ album); she suffered nervous exhaustion after the year it took to make, but she produced an unrecognised masterpiece.

Shinji’s Picks:
Snow bound/ The Chills.
Thankfully Martin Phillipps’s health seems better now. Only 3 years after the widely acclaimed ‘Silver Bullets’, the Chills provides another stellar album. A quirky mysteriousness is still there but Phillipps is more mature and optimistic. He keeps his pop-craftmanship in great form and offers the melancholic yet bouncy sound with glorious melodies. It’s The Chills as good as it gets. Brilliant.

Lean on me.
Hello like before : the songs of Bill Withers.
To celebrate Bill Withers’ 80th birthday, two fantastic tribute albums came out late 2018 and they both offer wonderful listens. A star artist of Blue Note Records, Jose James has been performing Withers’ songs on stage, and the album ‘Lean on Me’ features his stoic vocal with deep, slow grooves created by his band. A neo-soul singer, Anthony David, who is often compared with Withers, takes a more straight forward approach, showing full love and respect to Withers. It’s been more than 3 decades since Withers walked away from the music industry, but his honest, caring-for-others songs may be something we need in the state of the world today.

Ventriloquism.
From the big names such as Prince, Tina Turner and Sade to the typical 80s hit by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, they are all songs from ‘85 to ‘90 (except TLC’s Waterfalls in ‘94). A cover album of the 80s R&B classics is rare and what Meschell Ndegeocello does with them is totally original. With the minimal arrangements, she and her band display superb performances and colour them with a murky textured otherworldly ambience. This is an exceptional cover album by the extraordinary artist.

Vortex / Sonar with David Torn.
Swiss jazz-progressive rock quartet Sonar has established an utterly unique sound – often playing in irregular time and creating a minimal stoic groove – and with this album featuring the one-of-a-kind guitarist David Torn, they seem to move to another level. Torn originally worked as a producer but ended up playing on all tunes as well, and brings a sonically inventive soundscape with huge improvisations on some tracks. It’s stoic yet dynamic, a marvellous risk-taking music.

Contra la indecisión / Bobo Stenson Trio.
This album was released in January 2018 but remains one of the best jazz recordings of the year. Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson is now in his 70s but his graceful lyricism shines more than ever and provides one of his finest albums. The trio shows a great cohesion and versatility and weaves beautiful stories. It’s music that grows inside of you like a good wine. Exquisite.

Mi mundo.
Cuban shining new star Brenda Navarrete infuses the traditional Afro-Cuban music with the modern stylish sound, and her debut album ‘Mi Mundo’ (My World) is full of thrilling moments. Navarrete’s expressive voice and her percussions lead the charge throughout, and the Cuban all-star supporting band shows amazing skills, creating smooth yet rich, dynamic grooves. Sensational.

All melody.
Plus.
German composer/pianist Nils Frahm has been a prominent post-classical music artist, and ‘All Melody’, which started with building his new studio, shows his exceptional talent as a producer as well as a player, exquisitely assembling a great variety of musical elements. Somewhere between techno, ambient and classical, it’s a beautifully executed, kaleidoscopic music. Frahm also joined the Danish electronica trio System with graceful keyboard plays. This is a wonderful collaboration, and System masterfully blends Frahm’s organic tones with their minimal yet rich soundscape, and makes it a mesmerising, ambient album.

Johann Sebastian Bach / Vikingur Olafsson.
As if making an ultimate Bach playlist, a young Icelandic pianist Vikingur Olafsson excellently juxtaposes Bach’s compositions, and tackles them from a variety of angles with fresh ideas. His pianism is sophisticated and refreshing, and brings out astonishingly colourful faces of Bach. This incredible Bach should reach beyond the classical music lovers like Glenn Gould did.

Staff Picks DVDs – Nov/Dec.

The last lot of Staff Pick DVDs for the year features a mix of Foreign films, indie Sci-Fi, new TV shows and a poignant tribute to actor Harry Dean Stanton.

Foxtrot.
Israeli filmmaker Samuel Maoz’s bold first feature Lebanon (2009) shocked the world, depicting warfare exclusively through the gunsight view from the tank. Eight years down the line, his new work appears slightly more conventional but equally impressive. A Tel Aviv couple are devastated to learn that their son, who is serving in the military, has been killed, but it turns out to be misinformation. Then, the story, which uniquely divided into three parts, unfolds with an unexpected twist. Without the scenes of conflicts or gun battles, Maoz deftly highlights the tragedy of war from the different angle. With a superb cinematography, it’s an immaculately crafted, flawless work. The only criticism may be the fact that the whole movie is too perfect and too structured. Nevertheless, it’s a remarkable achievement. (Shinji)

Radius.
A man (Diego Klattenhoff, Homeland, The Blacklist) wakes from a car crash with no memory. Seeking help he soon discovers that anyone who comes within a certain radius of him instantly drops dead. Retreating to his home he attempts to avoid all contact until a woman (also suffering from amnesia) finds him. She is immune to what is happening and they soon realize that she can nullify the effect he has on others – but ONLY if she remains within 50 feet from him at all times. Together they attempt to get help and find out what has happened to them. Tense and low key with minimal use of effects, this is another great indie Sci-Fi film that proves that all you need is a really intriguing idea and a good script. Klattenhoff excels at straight arrow good guys, and is perfectly cast. Has a nasty twist at the end that you may not see coming. Solidly entertaining. (Mark)

Captain Fantastic.
This film came out about 2 years ago and went around the film festival circuit winning great reviews all around. If you are anything like me, one look at the cover and the story line will have you interested, yet will fill you with hesitation, this movie screams hard hitting. Rest assured this film is hard hitting, and at times intense, filled with big emotions and questions about life, how we live it and we view and judge each other for the choices they make. Put aside your understandable hesitation and make the time to watch Captain Fantastic. You are bound to be blown away! (Jess)

Upgrade.
More indie Sc-Fi with ‘Upgrade’ a mix of cyberpunk tech stylings and action. Logan Marshall-Green (Quarry) is Grey, an analogue guy in a near-future digital world, a mechanic who fixes classic cars for rich clients while his wife works for an advanced Tech company. When his wife’s self-driving car malfunctions one day in a deserted part of town they are attacked, his wife is murdered and he ends up as a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic. After a suicide attempt by overdosing on medication, he is visited by a famous young tech innovator who offers to illegally surgically implant his latest creation, an AI chip called STEM, into his spine and restore motor functions to his body. Healing faster than expected Grey is surprised to hear STEM speak into his mind. STEM says it can help identify his wife’s attackers, and using his new found ‘upgraded’ abilities he decides to take revenge…’Upgrade’ comes off as a more action orientated take on a Black Mirror episode, depicting a world of human-computer augmentation and ubiquitous police drones that doesn’t seem that far off, however like most things in a Black Mirror type world, there is a price for everything… (Mark)

Lucky.
His career spanned more than six decades. Harry Dean Stanton appeared in countless movies, but played a rare substantial role – probably the first time since the memorable ‘Paris, Texas’ – in his final movie ‘Lucky’. In fact, the whole movie pays tribute to Stanton, who was 90 years old when it was shot and died not long after. Following an old man Lucky (Stanton), who lives alone in a small desert town, it’s a subtle study of facing mortality. Although nothing much happens in the movie, Stanton still has a remarkable screen presence, exquisitely expressing the complexity of the character, from loneliness to stubbornness to tenderness. Some of the casts are played by Stanton’s real life friends including David Lynch, who is the best supporting actor here. Harry Dean Stanton wasn’t the biggest name in the industry, but no one was given as good a send-off in this wonderful fashion. Well-deserved. (Shinji)

Rick and Morty. Season 3.
Anarchic animated comedy from the creator of Community, that follows the adventures of an eccentric alcoholic scientist and his good-hearted but fretful grandson across an infinite number of realities, with the characters travelling to other planets and dimensions through portals and Rick’s flying car. Hilariously sick and depraved. (Mark)

Room / a film by Lenny Abrahamson.
The heart-breaking story of a young woman and her five year old son who are kept prisoner in a shed, and what happens to them when they are ultimately freed. (Belinda)

 

The Americans. The complete final season.
Things seem grim at the outset of the final season of ‘The Americans’ set in 1987, three years after the last season, and nine weeks before the pivotal Reagan-Gorbachev summit. Philip has quit intelligence work and is now full-time travel agent, while Elizabeth is still a zealous operative, fulfilling increasingly dangerous missions and training Paige to follow in her footsteps. The cracks in their marriage are becoming increasingly wider, and only worsen as Elizabeth is recruited for a secret Mission by the anti-Gorbachev Soviet Military, and then Philip is asked to return to intelligence work to monitor what she is doing. As the summit deadline approaches can they move past their increasingly separate ideologies to save their marriage and, as FBI Agent (and neighbour) Stan Beeman’s suspicions start to solidify, can they even save themselves? A lot of series fail in the last episodes, but ‘The Americans’ delivers a fitting wrap up for each of its characters, though perhaps not always what you expect, and ends on the same level of high quality that sustained its entire run. Recommended. (Mark)

Staff Pick CDs for Nov/Dec: Part 2

Toitu Te Puoro album cover

The second part of the last round-up of Staff Picks for the year features an eclectic mix of recommendations from Electronica to NZ, to Box-set reissues, and Indie.

Hot burritos! : the Flying Burrito Brothers anthology, 1969-1972.
The outlandishly titled Flying Burrito Brothers are the quintessential country-rock experimenters. Led by the legendary Gram Parsons, the group created a distinctive style of “cosmic American music” that fused country music with R&B, rock, gospel and vaguely psychedelic production. The heart-wrenching pinnacle of the collection is Parson’s stunning, strained and immensely emotive performance on the track ‘Hot Burrito #1’. The Burrito’s influenced everyone from the Rolling Stones to Wilco and left a musical legacy well worth exploring. (Joe)

Switched on volumes 1-3.
The UK post-rock pioneers, who have been on indefinite hiatus since 2010, are well on the way to becoming a cult band, with a worldwide dedicated fan base who refuse to accept that they are no more. Re-releases like this help keep their myth alive, collecting the band’s three ‘90’s compilations of singles and rarities in one nifty box set. This is a great opportunity for the curious to explore this unique band, as it runs from their very first 45 – Super Electric – through to their later more experimental phase on the third double disc compilation – Aluminium Tunes – originally released by Warp Records. The odd marriage of krautrock, exotica and electronics that created their sound has never been equaled (or even attempted for that matter) by anyone else and this collection is an excellent introduction. (John)

The animal spirits / James Holden & the Animal Spirits.
UK electronic producer James Holden has been pushing the boundaries of electronica for most of his career via his aptly named Border Community label and here, on his third record since 2006’s excellent ‘The Idiots Are Winning’, he has finally broken free of any constraints and has made a record far closer to jazz than electronica, playing his wonky synthesiser in a real live band with a drummer and free blowing saxophones and woodwind instruments. The whole thing was recorded live in the studio with no edits or overdubs (on a full moon according to the sleeve notes) and treads a path far more akin to the wild transcendence of free jazz greats such as Pharaoh Sanders than any current electronic artists. Brave and genre defying this is an exultant, joyous album and is highly recommended. (John)

Honey.
The Queen of melancholy dance beats returns with her first proper album in 8 years. Previous album Body Talk was compiled from a number of E.Ps and was almost like a mini-best of. ‘Honey’ moves away from an electronic-pop sound towards a more languid sensual vibe, featuring collaborations with Joseph Mount of Metronomy, Klas Åhlund, & Adam Bainbridge of Kindness. It’s one of those albums that doesn’t really impress on first listen. However repeated plays reveal the interlocking layers of the tracks, which function in many ways as an entire suite with overlapping lyrics, melodies and themes, revealing a more vulnerable state of mind following the tragic death of friend and collaborator, producer Christian Falk, the breakup of a relationship, and several years of intense therapy. Robyn has always seemed a pop star unlike any other, her music never in service to trends, producers du jour, or relentless cross marketing, and this release sees her following her own path once more. (Mark)

Greatest hits vol. 1 : deluxe edition.
The US experimental psychedelic alt-rockers, The Flaming Lips, over 20 albums and countless singles and side projects have become an institution by sheer persistence if nothing else. This three disc set, with excellent cover art, spans the 25 years of their Warners career from 1992 to 2017 with discs one and two featuring highlights chronologically and disc three assembling rare tracks and b-sides. The very fact that such an avowedly weird band can attain the festival headlining status they have enjoyed is remarkable in itself, and this collection includes all sides of their creative impulses from sweet sing along indie anthems to raucous freakouts. Taken in one sitting like this, the stylistic tangents the band have taken make more sense with it all hanging together remarkably well and this collection offers a great chance for the curious to delve into one of the most eccentric and creative acts of the past few years. (John)

Dance on the blacktop.
The shoegaze revival has been underway for long enough now for the style to become more than a nod to the past and a recognised contemporary sub-genre, and US band Nothing have the sound perfected. The production is crytalline and presents the huge guitar swathes in all their harmonic glory, with the half spoken vocals perfectly placed in the mix. This is the Philadelphia band’s third record and they have built a sizeable reputation over their short career as “the world’s unluckiest band” after a saga involving incarceration, a pharmaceutical sadist and permanent brain damage. “Dance On a Blacktop” is prison slang for fighting and here they appear use it to mean riding the chaos of existence with grace – which is a good way to describe their loud, dense and melodic take on indie rock. (John)

Treasure hiding : the Fontana years.
If there was ever a band seduced by beauty it was The Cocteau Twins. Their music is a heavenly ethereal sonic wash but the question that plagued the band pretty much from their formation is, was there more to their music than beauty alone? And perhaps is beauty enough? Well Treasure Hiding The Fontana Years goes some considerable way to answering these questions, sure their trademark ethereal sound is there but this box set contains some of their most experimental, progressive and at times personal works. It’s no secret that the band were suffering from personal difficulties and Elizabeth Fraser uses this as creative fuel bearing her heart in some of the lyrics. Other pieces are much more abstract and obtuse. The fantastic Otherness EP sees the band in an ambient, dubby impressionistic mode very different from their previous works but sumptuous none the less and with grit buried in the strange eeriness of the music. In these pieces you can clearly hear a rich new direction the band could have gone in if their internal problems hadn’t ripped them apart. (Neil J)

Infinite moment / The Field.
Swedish electronic producer Axel Willner, aka The Field, continues his musical pilgrimage chasing endless repetitive loops to an infinite beyond. His distinctive compositional style is either loved or loathed by listeners who willingly enter the hypnotic zones generated by The Field’s everlasting loops or find the very idea claustrophobic and relentlessly boring. Here, six albums in, Axel Willner shows just how finely he has mastered his craft – there are still no breaks, no drops and barely any key changes, instead, the tracks are a little longer, the 4/4 a little slower and the harmonics, melodies and variations that lurk within are a little more subtle; all in all a masterful achievement by one of the most original electronic producers active today. (John)

Bottle it in.
Kurt Vile has, over seven albums, gradually moved from the fringes of alt-rock to inhabit a central place. His latest album consolidates that position, as he applies his distinctive laconic stance to a collection of well written and produced songs, performed with the Violators as his backing band. His highly characteristic slacker Americana has by now become expertly crafted and via the unusual sense of intimacy he is able to create he maintains interest throughout this long album, taken at a very relaxed pace, and which includes several tracks over ten minutes long. Overall, this imaginative and curiously engrossing record ably validates his cultural niche as the new millennium’s equivalent of artists such as R.E.M and Neil Young. (John)

Aquemini.
Best known for their smash hits ‘Ms. Jackson’ (2000) and ‘Hey Ya!’ (2003), Outkast’s magnum opus arrived in 1998. Aquemini captures the pure alchemy of Big Boi and Andre 3000 at their finest, rapping over funky and futuristic beats. Big Boi grounds the group with his streetwise perspective and braggadocious charm while Andre 3000 reaches for the stars with his unique extra-terrestrial philosophy. Blaring horns, a pounding bassline and quirky storytelling make ‘SpottieOttieDopaliscious’ a highlight. Other standout tracks include the anthemic ‘Skew It on the Bar-B’, the iconoclastic ‘Return of the G’ and the catchy head-nodder ‘Rosa Parks’. (Joe)

Suspiria : music for the Luca Guadagnino film.
Thom Yorke’s soundtrack for the remake of the 1977 Italian supernatural horror film Suspiria is a surprise because, within the 25 tracks of the expected doom laden strings, suspense laden tinkly piano and creepy ambient electronics, are featured six new songs, which makes it considerably more than a mere soundtrack. In fact, if the two discs were edited down it would make a very fine Thom Yorke solo album. The context of a horror film allows Yorke to fully indulge his ever present melancholia and the results are very satisfying. This is definitely not sunday bar-b-que music, but the fine orchestral and choral arrangements, the creepy electronica and the gentle, sad, guitar based songs make for some great late night uneasy listening. (John)

Toitū te pūoro.
The perfect sound recordings made possible by modern state of the art studio technology is allowing contemporary listeners the privilege of being able to hear traditional Maori instrumentation as it has never been heard before. Al Fraser, the Wellington musician and instrument maker dedicated to the preservation and ongoing enhancement of this rich musical heritage, here, on his fifth CD release, takes the listener on a deep, dreamlike and evocative journey into the mysterious, mystical and unique sound worlds created by the ancient taonga puoro. Many of the sounds here are so fine and subtle as to be almost inaudible, but that is just the point, because in stretching the hearing of the listener, they are then drawn further in to ‘Te Korekore – the realm between being and non-being’. Take some time out to listen yourself. (John)

Solo anthology : the best of Lindsey Buckingham.
The now ex-Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham’s solo albums have always seemed to be overlooked amongst the hype and turmoil of Fleetwood Mac, many of their later albums being structured around a bulk of songs he had set aside for solo projects. This 3-disc compilation includes material from his 6 studio albums, live albums, the collaboration with Christine McVie, tracks from 80s soundtracks, and a couple of unreleased songs. A nice mix of music from the catchy pop of his debut solo album Out of the Cradle to the more acoustic and layered works of later albums. What emerges is a portrait of a great guitarist (the fantastic classical styled playing on his first album still amazes) and songwriter, in search of something deeper than the music he was making in a hugely successful commercial band. Recommended if you’re a fan. (Mark)

Lageos / Actress x London Contemporary Orchestra.
Not an easy listen, but rewarding for the curious, is the recent collaboration between Actress, the London based electronic producer, and the modern classical ensemble, The London Contemporary Orchestra. It is an, at times, wild ride, veering from abstract noise to modern classical drones and treated piano, fractured beats to gamelan style rhythms and finally settling down a little for the last four tracks which have a lovely haunting beauty. The unlikely pairing works overall, creating a work that is intriguing and unsettling in equal measure. (John)

Bunny.
Difficult to stylistically pin down, Mathew Dear has been following a singular path of hybrid electro pop since 2003 across six albums under his own name, as well as producing dance floor techno under a variety of aliases. Since his predominantly instrumental 2003 debut, Leave Luck To Heaven, his solo albums have gradually become more songs based, culminating in his latest, which is as close to pop as he has ever strayed. However, it is a version of pop quite like no other, featuring his gravelly baritone voice amidst an array of funky, wobbly and expansive beats and sounds, mainly electronic, which turn these songs into what one could imagine hearing from an FM station broadcasting, possibly, from Venus. (John)

Vanished gardens / Charles Lloyd & The Marvels + Lucinda Williams.
Some say that this collaboration pioneers a new genre of ‘Americana Jazz’ and it’s a very good description of this music. For their second album, the legendary jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd and the Marvels invite one-of-a-kind singer Lucinda Williams, and present a wonderful music, bringing together jazz, country, blues and gospel. Not only Lloyd and Williams but The Marvels is also a group of master musicians – Bill Frisell (guitar), Greg Leisz (pedal steel), Reuben Rogers (bass) and Eric Harland (drums) – and everyone here marvellously displays their unique genius; unmistakable dusty Williams’ voice, Frisell’s texturized guitar, versatile Lloyd’s rich tone etc., to make a great band sound. Most of the songs are originals by Lloyd or Williams but the album closes with two glorious covers; Thelonious Monk’s ‘Monk’s Mood’ and Jimi Hendrix’s masterpiece ‘Angel’. Sublime. (Shinji)

Staff Pick CDs for Nov/Dec: Part 1

GAS CD Cover

The first part of the latest round-up of Staff Picks features an eclectic mix of recommendations from Electronica to NZ, to Box-set reissues, and Indie. Keep an eye out for part two coming soon!

Suffuse.
Christchurch based guitarist Roy Montgomery’s first band were the Pin Group whose 7” single ‘Ambivalence’ was the very first Flying Nun release back in 1981. Almost 40 years later Roy Montgomery continues to push the edges and his latest release finds him creating six deeply layered shimmering soundscapes, each featuring a different guest female vocalist including Liz Harris, aka Grouper, and Julianna Barwick. These beautifully produced ambient experimental drones are deeply hypnotic and are given an added edge by the vocal component that humanizes the sounds without detracting from their transcendental properties. Overall a very successful project that, in a perfect world, would find cult guitar legend Roy Montgomery a wider audience. (John)

DJ-kicks : DJ Seinfeld.
It’s a sure sign that a new electronic sub-genre has been validated when a leading DJ of the style is asked to submit a mix to the long running DJ Kicks series. Number 64 in the series is from Swedish producer, Armand Jakobsson, aka, DJ Seinfeld, a leading light in the fresh Lo-Fi House sub-genre. Confusingly, Lo-Fi House appears to be an attitude rather than an actual sound – predicated on a deliberately rough around the edges production style and a can-do, outsider attitude. Here we have a cool selection of contemporary electronica, light and groovy, that moves very smoothly through deep house, breakbeats, electro, downbeat and more with, interestingly, eight of the 21 tracks coming from Melbourne producers. (John)

Loving the alien [1983-1988].
There has been a few great David Bowie releases in 2018 including Welcome to the Blackout (live London 78) and December saw the first DVD release of his seminal Glastonbury performance from 2000, often cited as the greatest Glastonbury headline performance ever. There is also the continuation of the fabulous box set releases of his back catalogue, this one entitled Loving the alien (1983-1988), an eleven disc outing that covers his most commercial period. In late 60s Kenneth Pitt, one of Bowies early managers, tried to turn David Bowie into an all-round mass market entertainer and in the 80’s under his own steam that’s exactly what he became. And I guess that’s the only way you can view these releases. They just don’t inhabit the same worlds as his 70’s output- these albums are more Chic, or Michael Jackson, than Ziggy Stardust. However if you listen to them with your 80’s disco ears on there is a lot to be enjoyed! The remastered version of Lets Dance has many pleasures. The Loving the Alien album has one or two fine tracks but the most interesting aspect of this release is the new version of Never Let Me Down. This 2018 version has been totally reworked with many of the classic 80’s elements removed and replaced with completely new elements. This new version is certainly a vast improvement on the original release and free of the 80s bombastic production; it gains a new life with songs being given the space to breathe and so becomes subtle and complex in tone. (Neil J)

All that reckoning.
It was 1986 that the Canadian band Cowboy Junkies played a key part in creating the template for alt-country with their classic Lo-Fi album The Trinity Session. Exactly 30 years on, it’s great to hear, on their first record in six years, that these musos in their 50’s are still creating their beautiful, fiery, fragile sound world. This collection of dark, existentialist songs that deal with political, social and personal situations are beautifully delivered by vocalist Margo Timmins, accompanied by her brothers on guitar and drums, with bass player, Alan Anton. The often delicate songs are frequently shot through with discordant noise and a blurry psychedelic edge, sometimes subtle, other times harsh, to create atmospheres haunting, tender and tense. (John)

Body / The Necks.
Back to the Chris Cutler (Henry Cow/Art Bears)’s ReR label, the world famous Australian cult trio, The Necks’ 20th album finds them a superb form. Once again, it’s a 60 minutes-long improvisation affair, opening and closing with the beautifully executed piano-led ambient sound. However, the chunk of middle part is a frantic electric guitar riff like a storm. This definitely comes as a shock for many but probably not so surprising, if you remember that they have been one of the most forward-thinking, push-the-boundary bands. It’s been almost three decades since they started performing together but they still have fresh ideas and keep evolving. This is one of their bests and confirms again that they are truly original. Phenomenal. (Shinji)

Loop-finding-jazz-records.
Originally released in 2001, Loop Finding Jazz Records was groundbreaking in the, then, new domain of minimal electronica, featuring subtle use of micro samples and flickering glitch generated rhythms to create music that was oddly mesmerizing. This record has become a cult favorite and has aged surprisingly well, the languorous textures and sub-sonic bass creating a timeless sound world, somewhere between ambient and sub-aquatic minimal house. Despite being created with micro-samples taken from jazz records, this album bears no resemblance to that genre, presenting more a strange and dreamlike soundtrack for an imaginary, removed and flawless post-human existence, perfect for home listening. (John)

Re:member.
Its hard to credit that Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds started out as drummer for a hardcore band, as this collection of incredibly delicate and achingly beautiful pieces for piano, cello, orchestra and electronics are about as far from hardcore drumming as can be imagined. Recognized as one of the leading figures in the modern classical genre, Arnalds here applies subtle electronic algorithms to his compositions via the use of software he developed that generates alternate notes on two other pianos from the notes he is playing. The results are gorgeous harmonics that add complexity to the deceptively simple and beautifully restrained compositions which straddle modern classical, ambient and electronica. (John)

Negro swan.
A deeply sensitive and resonant album, Blood Orange delivers beautiful production and emotive vocal performances. Pitchfork reviewer Jason King put it best when he described the album as capturing “the scattershot, jittery, anxious, blissed-out-depressive feeling of what it’s like to be a marginalized person at a toxic and retrograde moment in global culture and politics.” Recommended tracks are ‘Orlando’ and ‘Charcoal Baby’. (Joe)

Searching for the spark.
Special mention must go to the Steve Hillage Box Set – if only for its sheer magnitude – so make sure you are feeling fit if you decide to access this item, as just carrying the weighty box home presents a challenge. Contained within are 22 CDs and four books which encapsulate the UK psych-rock guitarist’s entire career. While not exactly a household name, Steve Hillage is probably most famous for his role as guitarist on Gong’s cult Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy, after which he went on to a solo career – as documented in this box set. Of particular interest are the recordings of and writings about the early Canterbury scene, which he was a formative part of as guitarist for the bands Uriel and Khan. Also included is the first System 7 album, his, still current, techno based project, featuring guest artists such as Derek May, Alex Paterson and Paul Oakenfold. (John)

Rausch.
German electronic producer Wolfgang Voigt has been running his Gas project since 1996 and his music has taken a darker turn for this, his sixth release. His compositions feature processed orchestral samples densely layered, frequently over a deeply submerged 4/4 rhythm, that evoke, if anything, a warm, timeless cocoon. Here, however, the atmosphere has become foreboding with dissonance and anxiety entering into a world that once seemed welcoming. ‘Rausch’ translates as an ecstatic state or fever dream, and this music, which contains bright and beautiful moments emerging from an often imposing and dense gloom, while not for the faint-hearted, offers a rewarding deep listening experience. (John)

Everybody else is doing it, so why can’t we? : 25th anniversary edition.
With Dolores O’Riordan’s distinctive voice, The Cranberries were one of those bands you either loved or hated, but there was no denying the success and pervasiveness of their first 2 albums in the early 90s. Last year the band came together to plan a 25th Anniversary Box Set release of their debut album, and following O’Riordan’s untimely death in January, the remaining band members have decided to go ahead with the 25th Anniversary Box Set as a tribute to her. As well as the original album, it includes a plethora of recordings from that era spread across 3 discs, including some rare tracks sourced from their early cassette releases as ‘The Cranberry Saw Us’. It also includes a 52-page hardback book that details the creation of the record and the history of the bands ‘rags to riches’ journey, which is itself a fascinating look back at a Music Industry that doesn’t exist anymore. A fitting tribute to one of the most iconic voices of popular music. (Mark)

The loneliest girl.
Difficult to pin down, AK pop chanteuse Chelsea Nikkel confounds with her fourth album, which extends her previous synth-pop arrangements into a wide array of new areas, with each of the 12 tracks pretty much inhabiting a different pop arena. Produced by alt-pop maestro Jonathon Bree, this is pop, but pop with a distinctly Lynchian feel, as within the sweet vocals and pink ribbons beats a dark heart delivering these thoughtfully produced bitter sweet songs. It all hangs together remarkably well, and beneath the la-la-las there lurks a deceptively subversive baroque take on the pop format that is entertaining from start to finish. (John)

Strictly rhythm : underground ’90-’97.
The latest edition in Cherry Red’s expertly curated re-issue series features a three disc collection of standout tracks from NY based Strictly Rhythm, the label that played a vital role in creating the dance genre known as House. Home to artists such as Roger Sanchez, Todd Terry, Louie Vega and Armand Van Helden, Strictly Rhythm was the leading US house music label throughout the ‘90’s. This retrospective is almost a history of NY underground house music itself, with the biggest hits deliberately overlooked in favor of club classics, hidden treasures and tracks never before released on CD. With all tracks fully restored and remastered this is a great peek into the roots of contemporary dance music. (John)

Anthem of the sun.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead’s second album. Their spacey, sun-tanned San Francisco rock is on form for these groovy and psychedelic tunes. The album is grounded in folk-rock and blues, but takes cues from free-jazz. Keith Richards once said of the Grateful Dead that they were “just poodling about for hours and hours. Jerry Garcia, boring s—, man. Sorry, Jerry.” But on this album, the Dead are tighter than ever. Standout songs include New Potato Caboose and That’s it for the Other One. The anniversary edition includes the 1968 version and 1971 remix of the original album and previously unreleased live recordings. (Joe)

The nature of imitation.
The new album by Oliver Johnson, AKA Dorian Concept, is on Brainfeeder, the LA experimental hip-hop label, which makes sense for a musician who played keyboards in Flying Lotus’s touring band and worked on Cosmogramma…  and the experience shows. This is music “meant to play on our short attention spans” and the live instrumentation inspired by jazz, fusion, prog and funk and subject to an intense process of digital editing, creates surprisingly listenable stuttered, chopped up shapeshifting music comparable to other Brainfeeder artists such as Flying Lotus and Thundercat with a solid nod to Squarepusher. With the fleeting appearance of soulful vocals and untreated piano to mellow things out, this is an intriguing musical ride. (John)

Collapse.
The appearance of cryptic 3D posters on the walls of the London Underground network bearing the Aphex Twin logo was a sure sign that something was brewing and when the video for a new track called Collapse was banned, as it failed the test for TV image sequences that would provoke photosensitive epilepsy, it became clear that Richard James aka Aphex Twin was in the area once again. This five track ep is the latest in a series of EPs that have followed Aphex Twin’s triumphant 2014 return with the album Syro and is his most familiar so far, bearing all of the hallmarks of classic Aphex Twin electronica – frantic stuttered beats, rubbery bass lines, beautiful submerged melodies, evocative vocal samples and complex shifting arrangements. (John)

Staff Pick DVDs – Aug/Sep

A collection of new Staff Pick DVDs & TV Shows. From indie Sci-Fi, to Art intrigue, coming-of-age drama, and savage political satire.

Breath.
Australian writer Tim Winton is regarded by many as one of the finest writers in the world at this moment in time. His collection of coming of age short stories The Turning has already been adapted into a very fine celluloid feature. This latest film adaptation Breath is another coming of age story which was recently one of the highlights of the 2018 NZIFF and it has now been released on DVD. The book and film are about two teenagers on the cusp of adulthood learning about life, death and love through their shared passion for surfing and their occasionally troubled friendship. The surfing scenes are superbly done, and short of donning a wet suit and going out into the ocean yourself the experience and emotion of interacting with this primal force of nature is brilliantly portrayed and realised. The lead performances by the boy actors has a depth, maturity and believability than many actors strive for all their career and the cinematography is of the highest order. All in all it amounts to a thoughtful, nuanced and well-crafted movie. (Neil J)

Waru.
This is a New Zealand DVD. It is 8 (waru) stories that is told by 8 different Maori female directors. It is set in the same moment in time around the time of a Tangi of a young boy who was killed by a caregiver. Very different stories but connected and very poignant. Very sad and powerful. Briar Grace-Smith, Casey Kaa, Ainsley Gardiner, Katie Wolfe, Renae Maihi, Chelsea Cohen, Paula Jones, Awanui Simich-Pene, and Josephine Stewart Te Whiu. All names to keep an eye out for. (Brigid)

Rampage.
In recent years Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has almost become his own movie genre. And Rampage is perhaps one of the finest examples of what he does best and why he is so popular. It’s a monster movie with The Rock playing a tough but kind wisecracking primatologist looking after his best mate who just happens to be an albino Gorilla recently infected by a dangerous pathogen. Its big, it’s silly, there’s lots of banging and smashing, it makes no sense at all but boy is it fun. If you are looking for a funny, action packed popcorn blockbuster that is just about pitch perfect then Rampage could be the ideal movie. (Neil J)

Peter Rabbit.
A lovely movie very loosely based on Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. Old Macgregor dies and leaves his farm to a young great nephew (Domnall Gleeson- this Irish actor plays famous Englishman a lot) who finds out that not only has he inherited a farm but some very naughty and active mischievous rabbits. Lovely story told with both actors and animated cartoon characters. I found it funny in parts and enjoyed it. Very little kids might need parental guidance when watching it. Rose Byrne plays Beatrix Potter. Sam Neill is Old MacGregor. (Brigid)

Sweet country.
Set in the Outback in the 1920s, an aboriginal worker shot a white farmer. Although it was self-defence and the white farmer was a vicious racist, a massive manhunt was undertaken. This may sound like a typical western story, but this second feature by the Australian auteur Warwick Thornton, who impressed us with his debut Samson and Delilah; a compelling love story of the aboriginal teens, offers a much deeper, poignant drama exposing the dark side of the Australian history. It’s a harsh, devastating story with the colonialist psyche, but taking the majestic scenery as a part of narrative, Thornton manages to deliver lyrical, mesmerising moments. This is a remarkable work by a highly individual filmmaker, and although it doesn’t make you happy, it gives you a profound affection, which only great films can offer. (Shinji)

The death of Stalin.
Caustic, pitch black humour of the highest calibre is delivered in Armando Iannucci latest comedy. Set around the events and chaos surrounding the death of Stalin this star studded movie was so controversial that the Russian government banned it. Its wicked, hilarious, merciless and definitely not for the faint hearted. However if you enjoy satire of the very darkest and blackest in nature then this movie is a must watch. And the ever wonderful Jason Isaacs is mercurial as Field Marshal Zhukov. (Neil J)

Riviera. The complete season one.
There is a lot of money up on the screen in this Art based drama set amongst the Riviera’s rich set. After just a year of marriage to billionaire philanthropist, art collector, and Banker Constantine Clios (Anthony LaPaglia), the immaculate life of ex-Art Curator Georgina (Julia Stiles) is blown apart when her husband is killed in an explosion aboard the yacht of a Russian oligarch. Believing there to be more to the tragedy, she sets out to uncover what happened. Dark truths about Constantine’s dealings emerge, as she begins to realise who she was really married to, but just how far will she go to find out the truth… Stiles is excellent in this stylish but overblown drama. A good escapist watch, reminiscent somewhat of the potboiler novels that were popular in the 70s & 80s by writers such as Sidney Sheldon. (Mark)

The endless.
Two brothers return to the cult they fled from years ago to discover that the group’s beliefs may be more sane than they once thought. Endless is an independent, science fiction, thriller, horror cross genre movie that has as its literary DNA the writings of H P Lovecraft. (Though the film has a contemporary American setting). It’s well-made, well filmed and obviously done on an independent film budget. What makes it really worth watching is the mind bending storyline that deals with concepts of time, memory and space in an often genuinely creepy fashion . This is very much an underground cult film but if you like thought provoking, original and clever movies of the cult variety then this movie comes highly recommended. (Neil J)

A quiet place.
This is a thriller set on earth after Aliens come through and destroy most of the humankind. The Aliens have acute hearing but no sight so the remaining Human kind have to live their lives in silence. The moment they make a sound the Aliens appear and eat them. The story revolves around a young family who have to carry on their lives out on a farm, around these devastating turn of events It is a really good thriller. Lots of suspenseful parts. It stars Husband and wife team Emily Blunt and John Krasinski as the screen couple. Brilliant story and great acting. Contains violence. This movie is classed as both a thriller and a horror. (Brigid)

Faces places.
From the opening credit, it’s a delightful affair. A legend of French new wave cinema, 88 year old Agnes Varda teams up with a photographer and muralist JR, who is 55 years her junior, hit the road on a tour of rural France. On the way, they learn the histories of communities, some of which are long abandoned, and of people they encounter, and bring new lives to them with gigantic mural photos. It’s a celebration of people and places as well as creativity. This odd couple makes a great team and their friendship, curiosity and vision make it wonderfully charming. At the end of the film, another French new wave giant Jean-Luc Godard makes a cameo in his peculiar way and adds the unique dimension and the depth. Young at heart. (Shinji)

The man who invented Christmas.
This is a movie about the life of Charles Dickens and the events leading up to the writing of A Christmas Carol. It showed well what 19th Century life in England was like. It had dark parts and gave a real insight into the workings of his mind. Creepy in parts. Good character acting although hard at times to work out when he was imagining and what was real. (Brigid)

Manifesto.
Transformed to a feature film from an art installation, German artist and filmmaker Julian Rosenfeldt’s Manifesto is an intelligent, elaborate work. All dialogues in the film are excerpted from published artistic and political manifestos such as communism, futurism, dadaism, situationism, and pop art, and these historical statements are delivered by the 13 fictional characters; from a homeless man to a choreographer to a punk rocker, all performed by Cate Blanchett who displays an astonishing virtuosity. It still gives an impression of the visual art rather than the feature film, but under Rosenfeldt, Berlin’s outstanding talents come together here, including Christoph Krauss who provides magnificent cinematography and two prominent musicians; Nils Frahm and Ben Lukas Boysen who create impressive soundtracks. Germany’s got talent. (Shinji)

Goodbye Christopher Robin.
This movie is the story of the life of A.A. Milne around the time of his writing Winnie the Pooh. It shows his life from coming home from the first world war with PTSD. And his writing block after seeing the horrors he had seen. The sanctuary he sought in the country with his wife and son Chris. It is a lovely movie but shows the reality he was living. Brilliant actor Domhall Gleeson plays A.A.Milne. The story goes through the life of the child Christopher. This movie showed the beautiful relationship between A.A. Milne and his son and the creation of Winnie and the other animals. A really good watch. (Brigid)