Listening Post: Aaron Carpenter & The Revelators/Rei/David Long-Richard Nunns-Natalia Mann/A Scanner Darkly
Our weekly wrap of new music.
Aaron Carpenter & The Revelators
(North Western Records)
Aaron Carpenter & The Revelators rock. In an age where music production software means you don't have to have a musical bone in your body to compose or create music, it's rather refreshing to hear something that has its roots in the blood, sweat and tears of mastering how to play an instrument. Carpenter is a guitarist well-schooled in the blues. Urban myth has it that he used to sneak into famed Ponsonby venue The Gluepot and get on stage with local blues legends such as Midge Marsden long before he re-emerged on Waiheke Island with The Revelators and their raw self-titled 2015 EP. The riff is king on Pretty Lies, which brings the soulful harmonies of Nikki Ngatai to the fore on songs such as the dark and seductive Gunsmoke Girl, the swampy fire of Never Hungry Long and the chorus of the climactic blues rouser Werewolf, but it's their blistering cover of Led Zeppelin's When The Levee Breaks that reminds you the most that this is a classic album that flows and rises against the current.
A Place To Stand
A new generation of Kiwi rappers is on the rise and at the centre is 23-year-old Wellington born Callum Rei McDougall. A Place To Stand is a stellar collection of accessible and party-esque hip-hop that's overtly Kiwi. Impressively produced by the man himself, Rei doesn't rip American influences in the way many others on these shores tend to do. Instead he crafts his own flavour of soulful and sultry R&B influenced hip hop that brings an overall feel back to Aotearoa — the album's title refers to turangawaewae (standing place). Rei doesn't tend take esoteric and audacious musical risks but he doesn't need to. He clearly knows what's required of hip-hop that's easy memorable and easy to connect with. Watch this space.
David Long/Richard Nunns/Natalia Mann
What do a former Muttonbird, an ethnomusicologist and a classical harpist have in common? It's called Utterance a musical meditative kaleidoscope of thoughts without words between David Long, Richard Nunns and Natalia Mann. Long, who has morphed into one of New Zealand's more visionary composers, appears to be the alchemist where ostensibly disparate musical elements find common ground in track such as Begin Again and Celestial Day. Utterance requires attentive listening in order to reveal the beauty of the light in its shadows.
A Scanner Darkly
While Richard Linklater's film adaptation of sci-fi master Philip K Dick's novel might not have met with the same critical acclaim as other adaptations of Dick's books — Bladerunner, Minority Report and Total Recall, — Graham Reynolds soundtrack has fared better. Now available for the first time on vinyl since it's release in 2006, it still stands as one of those film scores that works on its own despite the fact that the 22 "tracks" cross genres, from the orchestral elegance of The Dark World Where I Dwell to the vibrant sunset steel guitars of Strawberry Pie.
- Sunday Star Times