Low-tech legend Chris Knox is an accomplished musician, cartoonist, critic, filmmaker, and jandal wearer. As this collection demonstrates, his genius takes flight in the DIY aesthetic of his music videos. As Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd says in his backgrounder, “this is a unique and important collection of work perfectly illustrating what is possible with the barest of resources and a free-wheeling imagination”. Russell Brown adds his view here. Alongside music videos, the collection also includes interviews with Knox and profiles of bands Toy Love and Tall Dwarfs.
Brian Brake is regarded as New Zealand's most successful international photographer. But before heading overseas to work for photo agency Magnum and snapping iconic shots of Picasso and the Monsoon series for Life magazine, he was also an accomplished composer of moving images. He shot or directed many classic films for the NFU, including NZ's first Oscar-nominated film.
It's hard to reduce legendary band Split Enz down to a single sound or image. Soon after forming in 1973, they began dressing like oddball circus performers, and their music straddled folk, vaudeville and art rock. Later the songs got shorter, poppier and — some say —better, and the visuals were toned down...but you could never accuse the Enz of looking biege. With Split Enz co-founder Tim Finn turning 65 in June 2017, this collection looks back at one of Aotearoa's most successful and eclectic bands. Writer Michael Higgins unravels the evolution of the Enz here.
Richard Nunns is a renowned expert in taonga pūoro — traditional Māori instruments like wood and bone flutes. This 2007 episode of the Māori Television arts show sits down with him as he narrates his collaboration with Brian Flintoff and the late Hirini Melbourne — “a magic coalition of separate skills” — and the journey they’ve undertaken to resurrect lost sounds. Inspired by museum objects, literature and song, the trio led the revival of the form in contemporary Aotearoa. Nunns says the pūoro would’ve functioned as “a cellphone to the divine” for tohunga (experts).
Singer Moana Maniapoto discusses her evolution as a Māori musician in this episode from a series for high school music students. After first singing in public on the marae and learning to harmonise at school, she paid her way through university by singing in nightclubs. She describes her epiphany in a Detroit church as she realised that she needed to sing Māori songs rather than keep trying to emulate American soul and r'n'b divas. An acoustic performance of 'Hine Te Iwaiwa' (from her Toru album) is followed by a demonstration of traditional instruments.
The late 60s saw globetrotting filmmaker Tony Williams shoot and edit two films for Iranian director Mahmoud Khosrowshahi. Here Williams chronicles an east meets west festival held in the Iranian city of Shiraz. Williams’ love affair with music and montage helps lend pace and life to a film whose sonic interests range from Iranian lutes and Indian oboes to American Cathy Berberian, who is busy turning comic strips into song. A glimpse of cosmopolitan Iran prior to the Iranian Revolution, it includes a rare interview with New Yorker classical music critic Andrew Porter.
Little Pictures is Wellington-based duo Johanna Freeman and Mark Turner. The pair started working together in 2007, and have written and recorded one album Owl+Owl (on Lil' Chief Records). Both Little Pictures members contribute equally to songwriting. Turner began playing musical instruments at a young age, mastering a range of wind instruments, as well as guitar, bass and drums. He is now experimenting with sampling and synths.
Gamelan music has been taught and played at Victoria University (and later the NZ School of Music) since the mid 70s, when lecturer Allan Thomas purchased a set of gamelan instruments on the Indonesian island of Java. This magazine piece from arts show 10AM showcases Victoria’s gamelan orchestra in action. Thomas and fellow lecturer Jack Body provide eloquent testimony to the popularity of this age-old music, and the access point it offers into Asian culture for New Zealanders. Body also provides his own spin on a gamelan composition.
In this episode from a series for secondary school music students, singer Hinewehi Mohi recalls the controversy that followed her Maori language rendition of 'God Defend New Zealand' at the 1999 Rugby World Cup. She talks of her immersion in music at school and its importance to her following the birth of her daughter with cerebral palsy (and the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre this inspired her to establish). As a songwriter who doesn't play an instrument, she explains the origins of 'Kotahitanga' — her Maori language-meets-dance pop hit with Oceania in 2002.
Director Justin Pemberton takes this love song by Paul Casserly and Fiona McDonald (from fourth Strawpeople album Vicarious) and transforms it into an exercise in noir influenced, brooding unease. His video takes place over a night at a rural motel (with McDonald as a receptionist, and Casserly up to no good with a range of medical equipment). A tarot card-reading, yoga-practising new-ager, a traveller with unexplained cages, and random appearances from stringed instrument-playing senior citizens contribute to the growing sense of disquiet.