New Zealand

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 influences on my own travel and videomaking. He was doing this long before youtube or instagram!

I miss you Dad…

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

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Huia Vortex

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Animated visuals, with electric guitar loops, one-stringed bass, and drums – the opening track from the ‘Ngumbang‘ album (get the free download) – w/ Emit Snake-beings & Nat da Hatt

The title ‘Huia Vortex’ refers to the location where the track was recorded, in Huia, a small village on the outskirts of west Auckland.

Dave Black & Emit Snake-Beings

It’s not necessarily related to ‘Swansong (for the Huia)(2004), the second album by The Winter, an electro-acoustic trio improvisation in tribute to the extinct New Zealand bird the huia by Dave Edwards, Mike Kingston, and Simon Sweetman. Its 19-minute final track remains an underrated fiffdimension epic. [send us your review]

The Marion Flow (part 2, Wellington 2001)

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It’s lo-fi, organic and about as eclectic as one could manage. Kind of reminds me of Nick Cave if he had grown up in Timaru. No pretentious American accents or catch phrase choruses, just a bunch of people making music. A little beauty!” – NZ Musician, August/September 2002

The Marion Flow was originally a longer album which spanned recordings from New Plymouth in 1999 and Wellington in 2001.

This page is for the 2001 Wellington recordings: produced by Paul Winstanley, & featuring Chris O’Connor (drums), Chris Palmer (electric guitars), Simon O’Rorke (percussion), and more. Recorded at Thistle Hall, Wellington, 2001, and mixed by Joe Callwood.

For the earlier 1999 New Plymouth sessions see The Marion Flow (part 1, Taranaki);
By the time the opportunity arose to finish recording the Marion Flow I’d been thoroughly immersed in the Wellington free jazz and avant-garde music scene, and was very fortunate to have help from some of the top players there. I’d never studied music at school or been in a conventional band, and was out of my depth technically… so working around my limitations became a spark to creativity.

Edwards’ music is often a sculpture rather than a melodic composition. Within this chosen form, amongst all the writings rantings & poetry there’s much difficult pleasure to be had for the musically adventurous.” – Brent Cardy, Real Groove, July 2002

In 1999, aged 20, I’d left New Plymouth, a large rural town, where I grew up, and moved to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, where I’d been born and where my early pakeha settler ancestors had lived in the 19th century. The Marion Flow reflects this journey, geographically, sonically and spiritually.

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I’ve now reissued the two halves of the album separately – to emphasise the sense of time and place, and stylistic evolution, and to re-present them more concisely for the short-attention-span 21st century.

Further listening

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1999

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At the close of the 90s, aged 20, I left New Plymouth, the large rural town in Taranaki province, where I grew up.

I moved to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, where I’d been born and where my 19th century pakeha settler ancestors had lived.

My second album, The Marion Flow reflected this journey. It showed a musical and lyrical evolution beyond my debut Scratched Surface.

(part 1, Taranaki).

The Marion Flow

Electric and acoustic songs, spoken word and instrumentals – an almost-recognised New Zealand classic (19992001)

It’s lo-fi, organic and about as eclectic as one could manage. Kind of reminds me of Nick Cave if he had grown up in Timaru. No pretentious American accents or catch phrase choruses, just a bunch of people making music. A little beauty!” – NZ Musician, August/September 2002

Paul Winstanley, recording The Marion Flow (1999)

Paul Winstanley played bass on and engineered the recording sessions, which were hosted by Brian Wafer.

The “hit single” Banana Wizard was released on a compilation of Taranaki music and had some student radio airplay around the country… about the extent of my commercial success to date.

I was also opening my ears and mind to more experimental sounds, and moving beyond conventional pop song structures.

At the same sessions we recorded free improvisations, which Paul later overdubbed and rearranged into

dAdApApA: Waiting for the Drummer

Taranaki improvised rock/noise deconstruction with sputtering synth, air-sucking turntables, didgeridoo and sundry toys providing layers of surreal abstraction (1999)

“after recording tracks for The Marion Flow at Wafer HQ in New Plymouth, an ad hoc group of associated locals assembled to record… the only rock references here come from the guitars… throw in some spoken word and a special guest appearance by N.P. record mogul Brian Wafer on vacuum cleaner and the dAdApApA nova had blazed and fizzled in the blink of an eye” – Eden Gully

& then I got to the capital city, and was suddenly a small fish in a bigger pond…

Part 2, Wellington

Dave Edwards, at Bar Bodega, Wellington NZ, 1999

Here’s what I sounded like around the time I arrived in Wellington – this solo postpunk set at Bar Bodega, opening for Chris Knox, was preserved (in lo-fi, a 90s aesthetic):

Live 1999

[send us your review]

But apart from songs I also fell under the influence of the burgeoning avant garde and free improv scene in Wellington.

This was centred around a venue called the Space (later Fred’s and then the Pyramid Club)… the dissonant flipside of the more popular smooth Pasifika/jazz sound the city became known for (Fat Freddy’s Drop et al).

Although way out of my depth technically, I met up with improvising percussionist Simon O’Rorke, and jazz-trained players including Blair Latham and Jeff Henderson to make

in the non-idiomatic idiom in Norway

Free (in both senses) jazz from Wellington, Aotearoa (1999)

[send us your review]

Click here for more detail on the free improv scene in New Zealand

The Wellington jazz sound informed the second half of The Marion Flow, recorded over the next two years

Further Listening

For an overview of my early period, try

1997-2005

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The Electricka Zoo – new tracks, late 2019

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Here’s a pair of new (late 2019) tracks from The Electricka Zoo

Keyboards & electronica by the Digitator

& Dave Black on electric guitar

in Upper Hutt, New Zealand, November 2019

the Electricka Zoo, 2017

Get our album if you haven’t already!

 

in the non-idiomatic idiom in Norway (part 2, 2014)

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978-1-877448-59-1

A few years ago I wrote a chapter of Jazz Aotearoa, a book about New Zealand jazz music history, discussing the free improvisation and avant-garde jazz scene in Wellington at the turn of the millennium.

in the non-idiomatic idiom in Norway is a collection of improvised instrumental music with some of the musicians in that scene, from the point of view of my own attempts as an untrained outsider to fit in with these advanced jazz players.

with

Simon O’Rorke – synthesisers

Blair Latham – bass clarinet
Julie Bevan – acoustic guitar
Michael Hall – alto sax
Chris Prosser – violin
Dave Edwards – bass, electronics, tenor sax (8)

These sessions were recorded in 2014. I’d just returned from living overseas, 15 years after my first exposure to Wellington free jazz.

The first volume was recorded in Wellington in 1999

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