I was travelling around the USA for much of October and managed to miss the release of this wonderful atmospheric song/video combo - with the great Edward Waaka popping up again,. Wherever Mr Waaka goes, he ends up bringing an extra "something" to the mix e.g. Third3ye. Dan Aux is an Australian but must now be an honorary Kiwi after having lived in Auckland for some years, after originally hailing from Newcastle, NSW. For me "Clockwork" sounds nothing less than Kiwi with echoes of Trinity Roots somewhere in that electronic blend. This track is a co-production with Faster Than Light, apparently Dan Aux' flatmate. The brilliant video, with some weird synchronicity against the release of "Gravity" (released globally in the same month) was directed by Brant Fraser with photography by Andrew McGeorge.Video FX were put together by Mike Robinson. An awesome end-product guys. You can download "Clockwork" at the Soundcloud link below. Enjoyed this much.
Dan Aux & Faster Than Light "Clockwork" ft Ed Waaka
I am thinking that Ophelia might be an acquired taste, but it is also a taste I have started to acquire. There is a need to hear more material beyond the recently released "Face The Sea" EP but "Not So Frightening" has a great vocal delivery, and interesting dynamics set against strong production values. There is also a striking visual identity emerging here. Ophelia are Patrick Shanahan and Alex Louise. They talk of being influenced by "dubstep, indie/folk and orchestral soundscapes". I hear a sound of their own in there. They should head off overseas ASAP and see where they get to (yes I always say that). This single is an indication that this band can write and deliver quirky AND commercial sounds/hooks. Could go far. You can buy "Face The Sea" at the link below.
OPHELIA - Not So Frightening (Official Music Video)
"Mo jikan" ("time up!"). Ok I lived in Tokyo for five years, so won't labour the point but have experienced that particular vibe many times. I think this might be one of the best Shapeshifter videos. Luscious imagery combined with Pokémon "jarmies", Transformers...and luxuriant images of luxury brand-shops. I am not quite sure what it is about, but I have never let that get in the way of enjoying what is often a pretty banal art form. The Shibuya vibe here is awesome, and the lighting/colourization are striking. Tokyo is often a weird blend of isolation and intimacy, especially for the "gaijin" (foreigners), and Nick Dwyer and Tu Neill have done a great job of taking us there on this video. What is one of the better songs off the "Delta" album has ended up in a place it might not have. I remain a big Shapeshifter fan and "Delta" is an awesome album. Of course I own it. You can buy it too - at the link below. Yokatta desu yo!
P.S. At 4:44...is that one of the advertising guys from "Lost in Translation"?
Shapeshifter "Endless" Official Music Video
From their debut album "Fragments Fine" due early 2014, City Oh Sigh have released the single "Sometimes" as a promotional free download. Whimsical vocals from main songwriter Kate Uhe, the rising horn line, percussive strings and a beautifully constructed drum part...all served to hook me on first listening. City Oh Sigh is a four piece band of trained musicians, principally female, with a male jazz drummer (I think) called "Hikurangi". Three of the four were previously known to Wellingtonians in the guise of The Sisters of St Rupertsburg. James Goldsmith was on the faders for this offering and a fine job he has made of it. Wellington and Berlin-based boutique animation and video production firm "National Park" was responsible for the great-looking video (http://www.national-park.co.nz). Thank you to Wellington indie/folk outfit French for Rabbits for bringing the video to my attention. You can download "Sometimes" at the Bandcamp link below.
City Oh Sigh | Sometimes
The new album from David Dallas is diverse, an effortless listen, and a triumph, especially personal favourite "My Mentality feat. Freddie Gibbs", "Transmitting Live", "Runnin", and the new single, "The Wire feat. Ruby Frost". The latter track arose from an original composition by Ms Frost from which the digital stems were reconstituted by the massively talented Fire and Ice (who dominate the album's production credits)...and who can also claim much of the credit for David Dallas' accelerating career. The partnership is a sweet spot. Ruby Frost's voice on "The Wire" is stunning as usual, and as she can claim credit to the musical hook, she can also take the credit for one of the more interesting hip-hop inserts of 2013. In visual terms, Joel Kefali, (he who can do little wrong it seems) supplies another classy video...although it is not the best he has done. New Zealand is lucky to have artists of David Dallas' and Fire and Ice's calibre to set standards. I am looking forward to hearing one day that Ruby Frost has joined Lorde in breaking the US market, as she is clearly good enough to do so. You can buy the new album at the link below. I have bought it.
David Dallas - The Wire ft. Ruby Frost
With one of the year's best local hip-hop tracks (produced by AZA), and an interesting video to give it a nudge, Onehunga's talent-favoured son is delivering tasty beats again. Spycc has been a must-listen hip-hop artist for me since I first heard his free "Self Progression" EP back in late 2012. "Slow Down" is well-helped by the gorgeous vocals of Mahalia Simpson and cruises along beautifully with a syncopated back-beat that for lack of a better phrase, is "toe-tapping"(sorry). Spycc's music is often a melding of a range of sounds/samples/influences into a self-assured and cohesive end-product, and this track is no different. The original and quite quirky video has a deliberately degraded 90s Betamax-video vibe and was directed by Danny Aumua, with photography by David Chan. The synchronization of the bring-to-focus with stammered sample at 0.20 is brilliant! "Slow Down" is a free download at the Soundcloud link below.
Spycc - Slow Down
I have been trying to fathom the phenomenon that is Lorde. I had completely underestimated the power law driving the popularity of this youngster's art. Maybe it's that interesting paradox of the "accessible", combined with an intellectual remoteness. The new single "Team" is well-produced, and the lyrics are very good, though by no means is it "track of the year". Despite that, it still has an "X factor", something Lorde has effortlessly projected since inception. In her own words, from Facebook, and a example of the accessibility..."this video was borne from a dream i had a few months ago about teenagers in their own world, a world with hierarchies and initiations, where the boy who was second in command had acne on his face, and so did the ...girl who was queen. i dreamt about this world being so different to anything anyone had ever seen, a dark world full of tropical plants and ruins and sweat. and of this world, i dreamt about tests that didn't need to be passed in order to be allowed in: sometimes the person who loses is stronger. enjoy xx". The video was directed by Young Replicant.