travel

New releases coming in 2017

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Coming soon in 2017… new projects on the go, available to pre-order.

The Electricka Zoo


The debut album from the Hutt Valley guitar/bass and live electronica duo – full of eclectic electric sonic surprises.

and

Other Islands: 2012-2017


Our third overview compilation* of album tracks and previously unreleased recordings – made in Okinawa, Indonesia, Western Australia, Fiji, and New Zealand.

*see also Gleefully Unknown: 1997-2005 and Fame & Oblivion: 2005-2012

Pre-order now and you’ll be automatically sent the download link to the full albums once these are released, along with bonus material not available for streaming.

Also coming in the near future, two new field-recording based albums made of sounds from Western Australia and Indonesia. We didn’t release an album in 2016, but that wasn’t for lack of ideas!

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Viti Levu, Fiji

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My first visit to a Pacific island country, apart from my own (though the term is ambiguous – I’m not counting Australia, Indonesia or Japan).  I’d always wanted to visit Fiji, due to family connections… I may have even been conceived there.  A week’s visit to Viti Levu, the largest and most populated island, in September was all too short but still a great introductory taster.

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First stop was Nadi, Read the rest of this entry »

Fringe Festival 2016: East to West

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Here’s my first major project for 2016, as part of the New Zealand Fringe Festival:

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The show is a big OE epic of video & music from the Tasman to the Atlantic, a decade in the making.

It takes the audience on a journey half way around the world from New Zealand, across Australia, via a dozen countries including Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, Russia, Albania, Portugal and more.

l’ll play a live soundtrack myself as a solo performance, to evoke each country… it’ll be a culmination of the travelling and field recording /world music direction I’ve taken over the past decade.

So far it’s screened in New Zealand Fringe Festival and also at the Southland Arts Festival in Invercargill.

My 2005 Fringe show Ascension Band won best music award.  So did the 2006 Lines of Flight show in Dunedin that I was part of.

Yogyakarta, Indonesia

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Here’s video from my two visits to Indonesia in 2014 – a fascinating new country that I’m only just beginning to explore, and can continue to do so through gamelan (like Indonesia itself it gets more complex & interesting the more you look).

Partly because I’ve visited several countries in East Asia now, and lived in two (Japan and South Korea), Indonesia seems like something else entirely. It’s less Chinese-influenced and has a style of its own.

[Diary from September] This trip was just enough for an introductory sampler. I decided to focus on the arts this time rather than the mountains, ocean and jungle which would require more time, money and preparation.

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I had mixed results in my cultural studies mission this morning. Read the rest of this entry »

Bali, Indonesia

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There’s my first video from Bali, from footage taken on my earlier visit in August.  Note the gamelan (bronze percussion) and rindik (bamboo percussion) soundtrack.

I left my job in Perth and am on my way home to New Zealand, so I’m nervous about jobhunting & starting all over again (again).  On the way home I’m spending a week on a smaller island, Nusa Penida, doing conservation volunteer work with www.fnpf.org  If you’d like to help me afford to stay longer and make more of a contribution  ($20 = 1 day’s expenses) please  – or even better, buy some of our music.

Bali is (once you get away from the main city and the tacky resorts in the south) an almost absurdly beautiful place… frangipani and Indonesian flags (preparing for the August 17th independence day celebrations) everywhere, majestic hillsides lined with centuries-old rice terraces, and too many Hindu temples to count (each family has their own). That plus the many international flights, and entertainment options from adventure sports to nightclubbing to traditional arts make it easy to see why it’s such a popular destination (I read somewhere that 80% of visitors to Indonesia go to Bali and nowhere else, which makes me glad I saw Java first).

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Read the rest of this entry »

Nusa Penida, Indonesia

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Nusa Penida is a smaller island between Bali and Lombok, about an hour by boat from Sanur in Bali.

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View from Nusa Penida towards Bali and Mt Agung

I spent a week as a volunteer with Friends of the National Parks Foundation. I helped with feeding the Bali starlings (critically endangered due to poachers – the population was down to 10 at one point but is now over 100 thanks to the translocation project), along with plant nursery maintenance, a beach cleanup of plastic waste, and construction of the new FNPF premises (thatched huts on a terraced hillside, and gardens that will be beautiful once established).

An endangered Bali Starling, Nusa Penisa, Indonesia
An endangered Bali Starling, Nusa Penisa, Indonesia

Nusa Penida is much less developed than Bali, and resembles Bali as it might have been 40 years ago before the tourism boom. Accomodation is simple, with basic facilities (eg cold showers – actually very pleasant in the tropical climate – bucket-flush toilets, and limited food variety).

For tourists it offers great snorkelling & diving,

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and enough Hindu temples & local colour to make it interesting culturally. It’s nice to not be hassled to buy things as much as in Bali. Mostly people just say ‘hello’ (in some cases it’s the only English word they know).

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I also need to mention The Gallery, run by an English expat Mike Appleton – it’s THE place to go for local information, language interpretation, western food, and to support local artists.

The main amenity I missed was reliable internet connections – there was no access at all for five of the nine days I was there, and when it was available it was patchy & unreliable even at the one internet cafe in town.  Lesson from this for me was to finish all travel bookings before  going somewhere remote like this.  Even back here in Bali the connection is too slow for me to upload any sounds or other photos, so I’ll add more later.

I also had a motorbike accident, though not the kind you’d expect. Read the rest of this entry »

Malaysia

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Crossing from Singapore into Malaysia the land is surprisingly empty for Asia – the bus passed only a few buildings and no towns on the way to Melaka… just acres & acres of palm oil plantations.

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I spent a day in Melaka, an historical town where the Portuguese and Dutch fought over control of trade routes (and ultimately lost out to the British as Singapore became the richest city in the region), then on to Kuala Lumpur.

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Kuala Lumpur is a big modern city with several attractions such as museums and wildlife parks, and the Batu Caves.

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One of the highlights so far has been Read the rest of this entry »