The Listening Project- week ending June 12

Actually, this is sort of a double duty post- yes I’m going to do my run through of the albums I’ve listened to this past week, but before I get into that I’m going to talk about the music I was listening to during New Zealand Music Month…and the lack of posts last month

So… As I mentioned in my hiatus post, I’ve discovered I absolutely can’t listen to new music when I’m doing serious writing- I can’t concentrate on both at the same time. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t listening to music though. First up there was all the New Zealand jazz I was trying to work into my talks- some of Auckland jazz scene related recordings you can find over here (including some of the many things I couldn’t squeeze in), and some of the jazz concert related recordings can be found on here.

Of course being Music Month there was a ton of classic pop being floated around and I listened to random bits and pieces (not entire albums though) from:

The Exponents



Dave Dobbyn

Split Enz

Mutton Birds

Sharon O’Neill


And probably a ton of others that I’m forgetting. However, I’m back into listening to albums properly now, so here’s this week’s ventures:


(NZ) Yoko-Zuna This Place Here 2015 Yoko-Zuna

A very local band to me- I know some of the members, and have even taught at least one of them. It’s always interesting to here what people get up to outside of their university work, and this is quite interesting because in some ways I feel it harks back to Nathan Haines early 2000s work (around the Sound Travels era)- it has that sort of feel to it, but it takes it in a slightly different direction. I look forward to hearing more from these guys and seeing how they develop.

Werner Kirschbaum Phoenix 2015 NGM

This free improvisation album has two distinct parts- the first is a suite ‘Pheonix’ for free improvisation piano with orchestra. Written and performed by Kirschbaum on piano with the Harleshäuser Kammerorchester it is described as a ‘libertarian’ work for orchestra and piano. At this point though I’m not sure that it is, or that it works. To me the written and improvised parts didn’t really mesh- it felt as if they were two entirely separate works rather than one whole. To me, even the most avant-garde work should sound like one entity not two works merely being played at the same time. The second part of the album ‘Workouts’ are solo piano free improvisations, and those definitely work out (pun intended). Here Kirschbaum isn’t fighting against any constraints and his improv flows freely and with great jazz style.

Eddie Palmieri Harlem River Drive (Remastered) 2006 Parlophone

Although I’ve always enjoyed Eddie Palmieri’s work, this was a new discovery for me. I saw a mini-documentary about the remaking of Harlem River Drive on Redbull Music Daily’s The Note: (the second episode on the page)

and my ears were intrigued, so I decided to listen to the original (well, remastered, but…). Wow, what a revelation! It’s cool and funky, and so essentially sonically 1970s New York. Such a great album- I can’t wait to hear the remake!

Allen Toussaint The Bright Mississippi 2009 Nonesuch Records

Another one of those artists in the list of- why don’t I listen to them more often? The Bright Mississippi is a completely charming, relaxed album. The master has nothing to prove and is having fun. I love the way he weaves existing songs with his original compositions.

Sohn- Tremors 2014 4AD Ltd

Sohn is one of those artists that you hear a song here and there by them in a TV programme or on an advert and it takes a while for it to seep into your consciousness, let alone track who it is down, but it’s usually worthwhile when you do. I first heard ‘Wheels’ in some context that I can’t recall- maybe an advert?- and then I just heard the title track ‘Tremors’ on the TV programme ‘The Five’. I didn’t bother watching the programme, but the music really intrigued me so I decided to track that song, and it just went from there. This is very much a moody, contemplative album, despite it’s obvious EDM roots (definitely more on the ambient side of things)- you definitely have to be in the right mood to appreciate it, but it’s definitely worth it


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