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.
If the Wool Board rocked, Steriogram’s ‘Walkie Talkie Man’ video would be the result. It uses wool to create people, instruments and tall buildings. A King Kong-like character scales Hollywood’s Capitol tower to kidnap singer Tyson Kennedy: inevitably, this warm fuzzy has to unravel. The ingenious stop-motion animation was made in New York by Frenchman Michel Gondry (director of feature Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and notable promos for Radiohead and Beck). The video – and the song’s use in an iPod advert – brought Steriogram worldwide exposure.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This episode of The Gravy takes an in-depth look at art in prisons. Host Warren Maxwell interviews inmates who have embraced painting or carving while serving time in Mt Eden, Paremoremo and Rimutaka prisons. At Rimutaka, art tutor Paul Bradley points out that art is a vehicle for change both for prisoners and the art audience, and former prisoners talk about how art has changed their lives for the better. Outside the walls, Warren visits at a caged exhibit of musical instruments at Artspace in Auckland and plays a few bars on the flute.
Sally Tran's characteristic attention to detail, a kooky concept and delightful fairytale flavour shrewdly enrich the artist's track, while conscientiously keeping the entire production largely recyclable. "There are four different sets in the video and we moved from one to the other in quick succession, shooting the whole thing in a few hours. Everything you see in the video is made of cardboard. Even the instruments (and our bow-ties!). The drums were particularly impressive." Matt Pender - Feb 09