2020

Ruasagavulu

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Out now – the new album

by Dave Black & Dr Emit Snake-Beings

Made in Fiji

“So easy to get totally lost in this music, recommend for helping with your inner peace” – Andi Verse

Indo-Fijian inspired tropical devotional avant-garde instrumentals for keyboards, ukulele, dholak, duduk, harmonicas, DIY kitchen gamelan, and video.

 

Snake Beings & Dave Black in Fiji

This was one of the last in-person international collaborations from before the world ended… it’s got nothing to do with the pandemic.

It was recorded in Suva, Fiji, 2nd and 4th of November 2019.

The title ‘ruasagavulu’ means ‘twenty’ in Fijian, to kick off the new decade optimistically.

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Further listening

Our first duo recording wasNgumbang‘  (2015) –

a fusion of several genres and a DIY manifesto – “Pick up the pieces and make them into something new, it’s what we do…”

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Gar mar par da nee sa

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the opening track from Ruasagavulu

by Dave Black & Snake-Beings

recorded in Suva, Fiji, 2nd November 2019

Snake Beings and Dave Black in Fiji

This short warmup improv is based on an Indian scale, inspired by Dr Emit Snake-Beings‘ travels to Kerala in India, and harmonium lessons in Suva.

There’s an Indian influence throughout the album, as several sections are based on drones and modal improv (rather than the chord changes)… though this is not a traditional Indian album, we’ve borrowed ideas to inform our own experiments.

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The temple in the photo is Sri Siva Subramaniya in Nadi. It’s built in the Dravidian style from southern India, which is also found in Singapore and Malaysia.

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In contrast to other Pacific Island countries, Fiji has a large – almost half – population of Indian descent. Indians came to Fiji in the 19th century, as indentured labourers to work the sugar cane plantations.

The following videos are made in India, courtesy of www.snakebeings.co.nz

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Psi-solation

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Solitude‘ appears on this new compilation of lockdown sounds from around the world, curated by Campbell Kneale

(who I collaborated with in 2018… the full length version of ‘a ton of feathers’ is coming later this year)

Psi-solation has 119 tracks, you can pay what you want, and it wins album of the year by default!

Dearest fellow music-hounds and shut-aways, CELEBRATE PSI PHENOMENON proudly presents…

‘PSI-SOLATION: A GLOBAL COMPILATION OF MUSIC MADE IN LOCKDOWN’

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Solitude

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Written in 1856, but timely perhaps?

This poem is the first of 44 pieces in the book Poems & Lyric by John Collie.

It was written by my great-great-grandfather in Scotland. 164 years later, living in 21st century coronavirus lockdown NZ, we’ve all had to bring back solitude. Creating music’s become a solitary pursuit again (or else a virtual one). Adapting this poem gave the chance for a 12-minute acoustic epic whose time had come (again).

lyrics

OH give me near some swelling stream to stray, 0r tread the windings of some pathless wood, For I am wearied of the bustling day, And long to meet thee, gloomy Solitude: That I with thee may climb those shelfy steeps, Which frown majestic o’er the boiling deeps. Read the rest of this entry »

Sonnet on Summer

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from Poems & Lyrics by John Collie (1856)

Rosemary Bromley, Dave Edwards, Hans Landon-Lane

Clever Hansel – ukulele vocal
Dave Edwards – guitar, harmonica, vocal

This was the last in-person collaboration before the COVID-19 shutdown, recorded in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, March 2020.

John Collie (1834-1893)

THE sweet breath of summer blows fresh o’er each plain,

The woods have resumed their lost grandeur again;

The groves with the notes of the blackbird are ringing,

By fountain and streamlet the wild flowers are springing.

And the breath of the heather bell sweetens the breeze,

And the old stormy ocean lies slumbering in peace;

And the wild bees are humming around the wild flowers,

Afar above earth the lark proudly soars;

The bleat of the lamb on the moss-cover’d hill,

The sound of the shepherd’s pipe jocund and shrill,

All tell in a language most striking and plain,

T hat summer, fair summer, is reigning again,

The old face of nature her smiles has put on,

And the blustery appearance of winter has flown.

Fiji 1976, by Alastair Edwards

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Film footage by my father, Alastair Edwards, in Nadi and around Viti Levu in 1976.

It’s from a couple of years before I was born.

There was no sound, so I’ve added a soundtrack from Ruasagavulu, which Dr Emit Snake-Beings and I recorded in Suva decades later.

My Dad’s interest in film (then video) and photography was one of the key influences on my own travel and videomaking. He was doing this long before youtube or instagram!

I miss you Dad…

Ruasagavulu – with Snake Beings in Fiji

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Made in Suva, Fiji – the new album by Dave Black & Dr Emit Snake-Beings

“So easy to get totally lost in this music, recommend for helping with your inner peace” – Andi Verse

Indo-Fijian inspired tropical devotional avant-garde instrumentals for keyboards, ukulele, dholak, duduk, harmonicas, DIY kitchen gamelan, and video.

This was one of the last in-person international collaborations from before the world ended.

 

The title ‘ruasagavulu’ means ‘twenty’ in Fijian, to kick off the new decade.

recorded in Suva, Fiji, 2nd November 2019

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Further listening

Our first duo recording wasNgumbang‘  (2015) –

Read the rest of this entry »

16 February @ Fernside Gardens Open Days

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I played solo acoustic at the Fernside Gardens Open Day on Sunday 16th February, 11am.

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solo acoustic at the Fernside Gardens Open Day on Sunday 16th February Website: https://www.eventfinda.co.nz/2020/fernside-gardens-open-days/featherston Greytown Little Theatre Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 February 2020 10:00am – 4:00pm … For two days only, visit one of New Zealand’s most beautiful and historic gardens as part of a fund-raising event for Greytown Little Theatre’s new theatre development project. The magnificent house and gardens were developed by wealthy pastoralist Charles Elgar and his wife Ella. Tragically the first homestead burned down in 1923 and a new one in American colonial style was designed and built by Heathcote Helmore. The homestead is set at the end of a tree-lined avenue, in acres of landscaped gardens. Wander your way through the Scented Walkway, through the Oak Cathedral, passing the Sound Shell to the stunning lake area which played a starring role as Lothlorien in several scenes in the filming of the Sir Peter Jackson’s Lord of Rings. The gardens have been developed over the years in a style that reflects both English Arts and Crafts with a layout in rooms but wit with the additional touches of European and Japanese water gardens and Australian and New Zealand natives interspersed. The effect is an appealing fusion of old and new world. The current owners when they bought the property in 2007 recognised its historic importance and have dedicated themselves to the continued restoration of the gardens. #wairarapamusic #newzealandfolk #2020music #banjo #garden #landscaping #wairarapa

A post shared by Dave Edwards (@fiffdimension) on

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2019 roundup

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At the end of the decade, and looking for a way to follow up the eclectic Asia-Pacific Odyssey of Other Islands: 2012-2018, I stripped things back down to the solo acoustic format of my early years with Live 2019.

The set, at Wairarapa TV in Masterton, New Zealand, was streamed live on the internet on 4th of May 2019.

For the past couple of years I’ve been living in a small town and don’t get to as many gigs as I used to… so here was an opportunity to use 21st century technology to play ‘virtually’ everywhere.

On the other hand musically this was closer to a traditional folk/singer-songwriter set than I’d done for quite a while. I eschewed dissonant improv, multitracking, live backing musicians, field recordings, or electronic trickery this time, and used just acoustic guitar, banjo, and harmonica (and a few seconds of wah pedal on ‘Eastern’).

The set was followed by an interview.

I also released a companion album to Live 2019 its stroppier lo-fi postpunk ‘official bootleg’ predecesor Live 1999. This was recorded on cassette 20 years (or half my lifetime) ago, when I opened for Chris Knox at Bar Bodega in Wellington NZ last millennium:

Live 1999

I started and finished both live sets on the same two songs, to show continuity and evolution.

It’s been quite a journey in between!

Other projects

My other 2019 works in progress included

* experiments with animated visuals and electric improvisations (the ‘yang’ flipside of the deliberately toned down ‘yin’ Live 2019)

* a duo with Emit Snake-Beings, for an as-yet-untitled sequel to Ngumbang, coming in 2020 (we had a recording session in Suva, Fiji, of all places);

* a couple of informal jam sessions with the Electricka Zoo (which has otherwise been on hold since last year); ( http://www.soundcloud.com/darrel-hannon/jamming-with-dave)

* and I continued to adapt the 19th century book ‘Poems & Lyrics by John Collie’, which I’d learned was written by my Scottish great-great-grandfather in 1856 before he came to NZ. Three of his poems featured on Live 2019, with more in the pipeline.

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