Chris Hurn’s new album out now

It’s been seven years since the young New Zealander’s debut album, Too Busy Dreamin’ in 2011 which spawned a SoundCloud hit with the song Whatcha Got (500,000 plays) leading to a publishing/synch deal with a UK based agent and a license by Swatch for a global ad campaign.

Since then Hurn has been concentrating on his career as a film composer and recent commissions include spots for blockbuster films Solo, Avengers: Infinity War and Incredibles 2.

In sharp contrast to his film work, his new album If I Were You continues with the folk pop style evident on the previous release but is a more polished affair full of catchy hooks and well crafted writing showcasing the artist’s further maturation and development as a songwriter and performer. As on his first album, Hurn plays all the instruments and produces the album himself.

Dystopia release Rough Art of the Spiritual

Dystopia have finally released their long awaited second studio album, Rough Art of the Spiritual, eighteen years after their 2000 debut, The Wisdom of Insecurity.

Featuring once again the exquisite poetry of Liz Maw set to music, the new album was fifteen years in the making with recording having begun in Auckland, New Zealand in 2002 and completed in Berlin in 2017.

While the first album was a collaboration between Maw, Monkey Records founder Nigel Braddock on keyboards and Shinya Asakura on sitar and production, the new album is based around the trio of Maw, Braddock and guitarist Gerhard Lottermoser with a dozen other musicians featuring as guests.

As on Dystopia’s debut, Liz Maw’s poems take centre stage and her astute observations on life, death and the human condition are quietly compelling. Although her voice sometimes barely raises above a whisper, the listener is consistently drawn in by the rich imagery and hypnotic soundscapes which rise and fall and swirl around her.

The music ranges freely in style from electronica to ambient to neoclassical to jazz to psychedelic rock and sometimes swells from a murmur to an apocalyptic crescendo.

The striking artwork is a painting by Liz Maw who has gone on to become a highly successful visual artist in New Zealand.

The album was released on February 5th on very limited edition clear and black heavyweight vinyl. Order here: https://monkeyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/rough-art-of-the-spiritual. The album is available to stream or buy from all the usual platforms.

Trillion’s new album Fire Works out now (LP/download)

Trillion’s new album FIRE WORKS mixes authentic blues from the ‘40s-‘70s with instrumental hip-hop and electronica. Featuring dancefloor-friendly beats, lyrical melodies, clever sampling and a broad sonic palette, Fire Works dazzles with its inventiveness and showcases the considerable skills the artist has acquired during his long career as a producer. Although following in the well-trodden footsteps of other acts such as Moby, DJ Shadow, Bonobo and RJD2, Trillion nevertheless manages to blaze his own trail with this accomplished and assured release.

FIRE WORKS is available as a very limited edition vinyl on black and clear heavyweight. Preorder here.

It is hard to summarise the career of a musician that has produced a continual stream of interesting and unique projects over a 25 year period. Trillion (Jody Lloyd) has an expansive musical history, starting in 1993 as founding member of Christchurch rap duo Dark Tower, well known for being one of the first hop-hop acts that rhymed in their own native New Zealand accents. In 1996 Trillion was born, with a collaboration with his musical sister Demarnia (Cloudboy). Since his debut Zealman, with Dark Tower, Trillion has produced/released over 30 albums spanning multiple genres including rap, spoken word, hip hop, ambient, downbeat, electronica, blues, soundtrack, meditation and sound healing. He has performed all over New Zealand and the rest of the world and was the first act licensed/signed to Universal Music NZ. In 2012, he composed the score for the award winning documentary Propaganda and his lyrics have been studied as part of the NZ High School English curriculum on ‘colloquialisms in popular culture’.

Although currently focused on his new sound healing meets electronica project Perfect Freq, Trillion takes a walk down memory lane with FIRE WORKS, an idea which has been gestating for twenty years.

“At the end of 1997 I was approached by Universal NZ to create a hip hop mixtape selecting music from their catalogue for the mix (50 Cent, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre etc). At the time it wasn’t really my thing, so I declined the offer and they asked DJ Sirvere. The mixtape became the highly successful Major Flavours series. I put forward what I thought was a better offer (at least for me), as I’d always wanted to do a blues remix album and my offer was accepted! I listened through most of Universal’s blues catalogue and selected 12 remix-able tracks, from thousands of tunes – and spent the next 6 months working on the project. It would work like this: Universal would retain copyright of the tracks – and I include one track of my own, which I would generate royalties from.

In May 1998 Universal and Polygram merged and Universal NZ was ordered to tighten their belts resulting in many small projects getting rejected. Universal NZ were still interested in the blues remixes, but had no money to spend on it. The album really needed professional mixing and mastering, but the boss said that wasn’t possible through them, but if I wanted to cover it, then I could recoup it from royalties with my original track. It would take selling 6000 CDs for me to make that money back, and at the time seemed impossible. So I bowed my head and left the meeting. My relationship with Universal continued as my band Dark Tower was also signed for a licensing deal. In June 1999 at a Universal ‘Friday drinks’, I was called into the boss’s office, “Have you heard Moby’s new album? It’s amazing! It sounds a bit like what you were making – that could have been you!” That moment was a deep stab in the heart – and Moby went on to sell over 10 million copies of Play. This album doesn’t contain any of the original tracks I remixed in 1998, but it satisfies my desire and hunger to finish a project with a similar feel to the album that only a few people ever heard way back when.”

Make Like a Tree “On the Couch” Interview

Wandering Ukrainian musician Make Like a Tree tree has played hundreds of gigs around the world in the last few years in a very DIY fashion, couchsurfing and hitchhiking wherever he goes.
Recently he played a couple of shoes in Berlin as part of his latest European tour so we invited him to drop by Monkey HQ for a chat on the couch.

Chris Hurn’s new single and video, If I Were You

If I Were You is the infectious first single and title track from Chris Hurn’s long awaited second album due for release in April 2017.

It’s been five years since the young New Zealander’s debut, Too Busy Dreamin’ in 2011, which spawned a SoundCloud hit with the song Whatcha Got (500,000 plays) leading to a publishing deal and a license by Swatch for a global ad campaign. Since then Hurn has been busy writing scores for film, finishing his university studies, playing in his band and recently relocating to Kuala Lumpur.

The forthcoming new album continues with the folk pop style evident on the previous release but is a more polished affair full of catchy hooks and well crafted writing showcasing the artist’s further maturation and development as a songwriter and performer.

The music video was filmed in Auckland by acclaimed director Tim van Dammen.

Henry Green and the Island of Tuliarts by John White out now

We have a very limited amount of copies of John White’s new dream pop album available on 180gm heavy weight vinyl. Go here to preorder.

“Henry Green and the Island of Tuliarts” is the fourth solo departure since 2000 for the Dunedin-based dream pop singer from his heavy popgaze bands Mëstar and the Blueness.

To listen to a John White album is to succumb to a dream world, both in terms of the fantastical themes and the ethereal textures he uses, and “Henry Green and the Island of Tuliarts” is no exception. Under a soundbed of lush string arrangements and gently strummed guitars, John’s softly delivered and ever so sweet vocal harmonies beguile and at times thrill. Alternating with the exquisite chamber folk arrangements of the title track and others such as Batholemule Brixton and Noneoir, are more trad. influenced songs such as Whisky and Beer and Sally, the latter about the heartbreak and isolation of those sailing to New Zealand from the UK in the late 1800s. “Farewell Song” is written for a musician friend who passed away suddenly during the making of the album.

Several of the songs have a nautical theme, with characters overlapping in the stories. The story of Henry Green is about an imaginary island sinking into the rising ocean. The Tuliarts who have lived there peacefully for thousands of years are colonized by greedy pirates but ultimately saved by Henry. Another sailor who Henry Green later joined forces with, is Captain Sabotka, named after a young family member of John’s. The stories of Captain Sabotka came about as made up bed-time stories involving a magic wizard crab whose magic only works when Sabotka’s eyes are closed (a trick for getting him to sleep). Before each story, John would sing the theme song to introduce the story in the same notion as Postman Pat or Thomas the Tank Engine, resulting in the album version.

Many other magical creatures appear on the album: banshees, lady elves and lexaloffles to name a few. It should come as no surprise that John also designs retro style video games and has a knack for inventing fantastical worlds and creatures. The brightly coloued eyecatching cover of the album is also drawn by John.

“Henry Green and the Island of Tuliarts” was recorded and produced in Berlin by Monkey label boss Nigel Braddock in the summer of 2014 with a few overdubs added in August 2016 in Dunedin and Berlin. On the album, John plays viola, guitar, piano, percussion and a whisky bottle with special guest David Sills (Charity Children) featuring on cello.

Free copy of Charity Children’s Fabel with The Autumn Came

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“Growing up in the 90’s, a few years before the internet, we remember the crazy little things called ‘chain letters’. These letters would travel all over the world, from person to person, post box to post box – promising willing participants a future of love and fortune and threatening non-participants with heartbreak and poverty. They were horrible things really- but these childhood memories gave us an idea. If letters based on fear and superstition could travel the world, could our music of joy and melancholy do the same?” Charity Children.

We have a limited number of copies of the chain letter version of Charity Children’s new album, Fabel (2015) to give away when you buy the CD of their first album The Autumn Came. The Fabel package includes CD in hard cover book form and download code. The band would like you to first download/copy the music, write something in the book and then mail it on to somebody. But of course that’s not compulsory

The Bollands sign to Monkey Records

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Always on the road, New Zealand folk duo, The Bollands, have been singing their infectious foot-stomping folk songs since 2011. With their love of travel, music, good friends & fine wine, they have gained a reputation for their passion-filled live shows and heartfelt folk tunes. Their energetic music stems from their upbringing in the folk and roots music scenes in small towns and folk clubs throughout New Zealand.

Christian, a hairy folk singer, met Joyce, the not so hairy pianist, at a campfire jam on a remote beach in their home country, New Zealand. They clicked instantly. Since that fate filled night, they have been playing their passion filled songs on the road throughout the world. For the past few years Joyce and Christian have been based in Hong Kong touring constantly. They have had the privilege of touring and sharing the stage with Vienna Teng, Geoffrey Lewis, Catherine Feeny and Chris Garneau.

The Bollands new album, All of My Ghosts, will be released on Monkey Records early 2017.

“Their live shows are energetic, foot-stomping and legendary” – HK Magazine
“The Bollands have curated a sound identifiably theirs… gorgeously melancholic..the honest, thoughtful songwriting craft of the band still shines through” – Timeout Magazine
“There were some really spellbinding moments. A certain observer suggested that it is a new truism in HK’s music scene that whenever The Bollands play, it is good. Well, they certainly did play. And it was good” – The Underground, Hong Kong

thebollands.com

Robin Pahlman’s new album “Temporary Everything” out now on cassette and digital

Musically and geographically, Finnish guitarist and songwriter Robin Pahlman has traveled thousands of miles since he recorded and toured with his band Agent Kooper in the early 2000s. Robin started writing songs for a solo album in Seattle, WA, recorded his debut lo-fi acoustic EP in his tiny home studio in Vienna, Austria, toured all over Europe, and wrote and produced his first full-length album “Temporary Everything” in New York City.

“For this album, I wanted to play more guitar”, Robin says. “I wanted to focus more on guitar arrangements than before, and layer acoustic and electric guitars and some synths in order to create spacey and dreamy textures and moods. For demos, I would start out with a basic drum pattern, loop it, and just layer stuff upon it. In the studio, we recorded the basic tracks live with a band, but for some songs, I still wanted to maintain a certain static vibe in the rhythm section.“

“Lyrically, I wanted to acknowledge the bittersweet feeling of nostalgia that I recognize in my friends and myself, as many of us now have entered our 30s.”

“Originally, it was a person’s attempt to resist nostalgia altogether. However, as the theme developed, it turned into a process of recognizing and owning your own past without getting too sentimental about it – as opposed to adopting the nostalgia of your parents’ generation, which I think is a very present force in literature, film, music, and (political) culture in general.”

In his music, Robin draws from a wide range of influences, such as dream pop, krautrock, americana, psych rock, country, and folk. As always, melody and mood are important ingredients in Robin’s songwriting.

Robin Pahlman lives in Brooklyn, NY, where he writes music, plays shows, and serves as guitarist with rock band Howth.

Introducing Make Like a Tree

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Make Like a Tree is a representation of travels expressed in music and photography created by Sergey Onischenko, a wanderer from Ukraine who has been hitchhiking around the world spreading his indie-folk tunes with a touch of non-conformism and Beat Generation ideas whilst exhibiting his minimalistic landscape photography along the way.

Each concert is played with new members and all songs are created and recorded in different parts of the world. Experiments with sounds and collaborations with the audience can turn this one-man-band into a duo or into quite a large improvising ensemble. The soundscapes of Make Like a Tree will bring you to an inner world of nature, woods, mountains and windswept tropical beaches and the sense of freedom that comes with life on the road.

The Animal album is a result of Sergey’s two and a half year hitchhiking journey through 13 countries from Ukraine to New Zealand. In June 2013 he left his hometown Kharkiv in Ukraine with his guitar in hand and headed to the East chasing the rising sun. It was the beginning of a vagabond trip that he had always dreamed about. Since then he’s done about 250 gigs in around 200 cities in Russia, China, Hong Kong, Macao, Lao, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. In late 2015 he will be touring Russia and Ukraine to promote the release of his new album with touring plans for Europe and who knows where else in 2016.

Sergey started giving a birth to this album when he made a stop in Bali and recorded three songs in his DIY studio that he set up in bungalow near the ocean where he was living. Three other songs were recorded in Auckland, New Zealand at the MAINZ studio with the help of his friend Mike McMinn who also mixed half of the songs and mastered the whole album. The last two songs were made in collaboration with Cosmic Setter (Russia), Compact Substance (Ukraine) and Anna Denisova (Ukraine). Overall the album is surprisingly cohesive and Sergey’s breathy understated vocals over minimal acoustic arrangements (with the exception of the last two electronic-infused tracks) are sometimes reminiscent of early Iron and Wine or Bon Iver.

“I have been to many places and I have seen many people. I realized that places do not matter – but people are everything. Every single person who I met on my way put a drop of inspiration in my soul and as a result – these songs became mirrors that reflect stories and faces. Take a closer look and you might find yourself in one of the songs.” Sergey Onischenko (Make Like a Tree).

Check out the album here.