Simon O’Rorke

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

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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)

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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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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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Ascension Band 2004

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The post-punk big band Ascension Band convened in 2003-2005… here’s the 2004 lineup performing at the Meatwaters Festival at Happy in Wellington.

Nigel Patterson – hammond organ & conductor
Dave Edwards – guitar & electronics
Mike Kingston – guitar
Jesse Toews – bass
Warwick Donald – bass
Antony Milton – violin & electronics
Damian Stewart – laptop
Jason Secto – cornet
Simon O’Rorke – percussion
Myles Climo – drums

The following year we won best music award in the 2005 Wellington Fringe Festival

A Visit to the Beehive

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A pleasant surprise this week to get a small (single figure) royalty payment from APRA for radio airplay for the shortest track from The Marion Flow, recorded back in 2001!

That goes some way towards recovering the $600 or so I spent recording the album (a lot of money for a broke student back then). I can’t claim it’s a prescient political satire that predicted this week’s news events, but maybe like the album as a whole it’s just timeless…

It’s also, for fans of Wellington avant-garde music, a rare opportunity to hear Simon O’Rorke play a straight rock beat on drums!

The Beehive is the nickname for the Executive Wing of New Zealand’s government building in Wellington .

Free mp3s 2014 – 2015

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New free downloads 2014-2015 !  Pay koha / what you want for

Ngumbang

the first collaborative album by New Zealand artist/musician/filmmaker/ethnomusicologists Dave Black & Snake Beings – performed on guitars, bass, banjo, percussion, saxophones, clarinets, harmonicas, synthesisers, Indonesian gamelan, Okinawan sanshin, ukulele, violin, loop pedal, piano, drums and spoken word.

and

ネオン列車の風景 Neon Train Landscapes

(2014) Japanese psychedelic rock by Dave Black & Nat da Hatt – two New Zealanders living in Japan.

plus

The fifth album from New Zealand free improvisation trio of Mike Kingston, Simon Sweetman and Dave Edwards

and

Free-jazz & improv from Wellington, New Zealand 1999/2014 – in collaboration with simon.ororke.net

and a video clip of

Gamelan Taniwha Jaya

rejection-dryrot-ripple-gombageand Dave and Cylvi contributed to Postmoderncore‘s first volume of Dada Songwriting Compilation, Rejection dryrot ripple Gombage.

 

Enjoy!

We’ll take a break from more releases for the remainder of this year while some new ideas percolate – thanks for listening, see you at the New Zealand Fringe Festival in 2016!