Taller Than God

Strawpeople, Music Video, 1996

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.

Lydia

Fur Patrol, Music Video, 1999

Prolific music video director Jonathan King delivers a simple but finely-executed clip with this anthem for the jilted. Although the band act like nothing is wrong and pull off an artful mime, it soon becomes clear that they have no instruments. Shot in extremely narrow focus, singer Julia Deans' sometimes wistful, sometimes sneering performance matches the brooding tone of the song, which topped the Kiwi charts despite initial disinterest from mainstream radio. The clip was shot at Verona Cafe on Auckland's K Road. 'Lydia' marked the third single from the band's first album Pet.

Pacific 3-2-1-Zero

Television, 1993 (Full Length)

Pacific 3-2-1-Zero is a record of a performance of the eponymous work by renowned percussion group From Scratch. The work was devised in 1981 as a protest against nuclear testing and waste dumping in the Pacific. Ring-leader Phil Dadson, his players and their instruments — from whirling PVC pipes to biscuit tin lids — are arranged in the shape of the peace symbol. From Scratch's rhythms are cut with footage and facts of nuclear testing by director Gregor Nicholas to make for a resonant statement. The film won the Grand Prix at Midem’s 1994 Visual Music Awards.

Mrs Mokemoke

Short Film, 2015 (Full Length)

This black and white short film explores a relationship triangle — between a Māori woman, her boorish Pākehā husband, and the woman’s protective father, arguing over rights to a farm. It was made as an Auckland University masters project by Li Geng Xin; he wanted to tell a story using visual language, and choses the expressive mode of the silent film to do so. Māori instruments (taonga puoro) and piano are used on the soundtrack. Mrs Mokemoke was selected for the 2015 NZ International Film Festival, in the Ngā Whanaunga Māori Pasifika Shorts programme. 

Bill Sevesi's Dream

Television, 2011 (Full Length)

This Artsville TV documentary plucks its way through a Kiwi-focused history of the ukulele, from Waikiki to Wellington, using the dream of “godfather of Polynesian music” Bill Sevesi as its starting point: namely “that the children would be playing the ukulele all over the country.” Presenter Gemma Gracewood (of the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra) reveals the instrument’s Pacific adoption and burgeoning popularity, and meets acolytes of ‘the uke’: from Herman Pi’ikea Clark to Jennifer Ward-Lealand, to Sevesi strumming with onetime pupil Sione Aleki.

Artist

Pajama Club

Born "in a spirit of abandon" from late night jamming sessions by Neil Finn and his wife Sharon, Pajama Club released their debut album in 2011 (their only one to date). The couple were inspired by the idea of creating danceable music from instruments they were relatively new to: drums for Neil, and bass guitar for Sharon. Later co-producer SJD (Sean James Donnelly) added keyboard textures, while Alana Skyring (from Brisbane band The Grates) did time as a drummer when the group played live. Reviews for the Pajama Club album crossed the gamut, with a number praising its eclectic, experimental sound.

Artist

Lawrence Arabia

Christchurch born musician James Milne took Lawrence Arabia as his stage name because he wanted an outrageous persona to front his own band The Reduction Agents, after playing with The Brunettes from 2002 to 2005. He has recorded two albums as Lawrence Arabia — playing most of the instruments on both of them. In 2009, his second album ‘Chant Darling’ was the inaugural winner of the Taite Music Prize for best independently released album of the year; and his song ‘Apple Pie Bed’ (co-written with the Phoenix Foundation’s Luke Buda) won the APRA Silver Scroll.

Artist

Shapeshifter

A self described “future shocked soul outfit”, the genre defying Shapeshifter was formed in Christchurch in 1999, by four jazz school students seeking to create live drum and bass using organic instruments rather than sequencers and pre-recorded samples and beats. The acquisition of singer P Digsss in 2003 brought more emphasis to their vocals and their sounds expanded to embrace jazz, funk, rock and electronica. While they have toured and recorded internationally, sold out festival appearances have made them an inescapable part of the NZ summer.

Tangaroa Whakamautai

Maisey Rika, Music Video, 2012

This soulful invocation, sung in te reo, to Tangaroa — Māori god of the sea — comes from singer-songwriter Maisey Rika's third album. The instrumentation includes a string quartet and traditional taonga pūoro instruments played by Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper. Director Shae Stirling’s music video has a vibrant clarity. It places Rika in the bush and the forest, in the surf and on the smouldering, volcanic landscape of Whakaari/White Island as she hails Tangaroa as commander of the tides while dolphins and whales provide further evidence of his life force.

Voices of the Land: Ngā Reo o te Whenua

Film, 2014 (Trailer)

Paul Wolffram's film melds sounds from noted musicians Richard Nunns and Horomona Horo, recorded in spectacular locations around New Zealand, to demonstrate that the sounds of the natural world are a form of music too. Nunns is a renowned expert in taonga pūoro - traditional Māori instruments like wood and bone flutes. Debuting at the 2014 Wellington Film Festival, Voices of the Land pays tribute to Nunn's role in their revival, while Wolffram's powerhouse creative team use image and sound to show ways "landscape and the voices of the land can be heard".