Music by Nigel Braddock and Allan Thomasson
Lyrics by Saadiah Fowlkes
Backing vocals: Tracy Duncan, Terry Lovique and DeeNaana.
Trombone: Curtis Fowlkes
Recorded and produced by Nigel Braddock
Mixed and mastered by Nigel Braddock
Cover art by Honye Sanges
Music by Nigel Braddock and Allan Thomasson
Originally from Australia and New Zealand respectively, Allan Thomasson and Nigel Braddock met some years ago and started making music together as The Mung Beings with rapper Saadiah Fowlkes. Following the departure of Fowlkes they decided to start a new project as The Tellurians.
Where I belong features DeeNaana, a Berlin-based gospel vocalist who also collaborated with them on some of The Mung Beings material.
Featuring stunning black and white timelapse footage by Colombian filmmaker Cesar A Ramirez V Traphitho, Unfolding is the new single from Berlin-based neoclassical pianist Nigel Braddock.
Although it’s the second single he’s released, Unfolding was the first piece Braddock had written for solo piano in over ten years. “I’d been busy writing and producing for multiple other projects and neglecting my piano stuff. In December 2022, I sat down to try and write a new piece every day. I decided to begin with just one note and Unfolding was the result.” In the following sixteen days, he wrote as many pieces which he intends to release in the coming months.
As well as producing his own projects, he has also produced albums for other artists on his label including John White, Charity Children and Ishta.
Originally hailing from the fair isles of New Zealand but now living in Berlin, Nigel Braddock aka Broad Oak studied classical piano from an early age and completed a music degree before deciding the life of a classical musician was not for him. In the year 2000, after some years wandering the planet, he set up indie label Monkey Records in Auckland to release an album by his band Dystopia which was a collaboration with a poet and a sitar player. Since then he has recorded and produced several albums for the label (John White, Charity Children, The Mung Beings, Cosmo and the Cosmonaut)) as well as working as a sound engineer, tour booker/manager and dj.
The release of his debut EP, In Love With These Hills, sees him come full circle with his label which started out releasing ambient music such as Sleepytime, Dystopia and the compilation Leading a Horse to Water. In fact, the genesis of the EP was a set of recordings he made in 2002.
Says Braddock, “I was inspired by Nigel Gavin who had recorded improvised loops every day for a year and chosen the best for his album, Music For Flem Vol. II (released by Monkey Records). I didn’t have any recording software or hardware back then so I borrowed a friend’s loop pedal and a mini disc player for a few days and recorded a bunch of loops. I made a few cassettes of the resulting tracks and sent them to friends but I always had the idea in the back of my mind to do something more with them one day. In 2012, not long after I moved to Berlin, I bought a piano and decided to add piano parts to two of the tracks. You can actually hear my son coming in on the piece Letting Go while I was playing and saying “music, music” when he was about 18 months old.
Predictably I got sidetracked again and I only finished the tracks in early 2021 while recovering from a bout of covid. My mood was quite sombre as I was feeling very isolated so it was the perfect time to come back to these pieces which are all quite melancholy. Because the original loops were recorded without a click track, the overdubs were all done pretty much live, no cut and paste, which adds a more organic feel to the tracks. There’s also unusual phrasing, for example the original loop for Worms is five bars which gives the track a feel of uneasiness. This is entirely appropriate given the track is named after a nightmare I once had of being dead and buried in the ground but still conscious while worms and other insects devoured my flesh. The tracks are mostly instrumental but track two features vocals from Kathryn van Beek who I was in a band with called Peachy Keen at the time.”
In Love With These Hills is the first of six planned EPs for the coming year which will chart Broad Oak’s progress as a composer and musician over the last twenty years. Since the founding of his label he has been making his own music but always ended up prioritising other artists over his own output. That all changed in 2019 when, faced with ever dwindling returns from streaming, he decided not to sign any new artists to the label and concentrate on his own material and collaborations. He now has eight different musical projects underway including a band with his son (Cosmo and the Cosmonaut), a project with a rapper from New York (The Mung Beings) and an upcoming solo piano album.
Braddock is also very interested in collaborating with AI and the cover for the EP comes from online AI art generator DALL-E. The AI generated music video by WZRD for Worms Ate My Flesh, the first single from the EP, has been selected for fourteen film festivals and recently scooped the Best Music Video and Best AI graphics at the AI International Film Festival.
The new single from The Mung Beings, Wake Up, was partly inspired by whistleblower Edward Snowden, who in 2013 at great risk to himself, revealed the top secret global surveillance operations being undertaken by the NSA. Since then, rapidly developing technology means mass surveillance is ever more pervasive in modern society. With soundbites from Snowden himself, the song urges listeners to wake up to the fact that we are all being constantly spied upon.
Along with Orwell’s 1984, the song also references the classic John Carpenter film They Live, the premise of which revolves around a drifter who discovers that the ruling class are concealing their appearance and manipulating people through subliminal messages to, as in the song’s refrain, “obey consume, conform”.
The EP features five remixes from Broad Oak, Boxroom Rebel, The Tellurians, Trouble and Choam Nomsky.
Congratulations to Broad Oak whose hallucinogenic music video for Worms Ate My Flesh has now been selected for eighteen different film festivals worldwide and recently won Best Music Video and Best AI Graphics at the International AI Film Festival in Salt Lake City.
Broad Oak is the solo project of Monkey Records founder Nigel Braddock who set up the label in 2000. The original loop for Worms was recorded 20 years ago and recently, while under a strict lockdown in Berlin, he completed the track as part of a forthcoming EP.
Beginning with a strident piano phrase and menacing strings the track transitions to a three way dialogue between trumpet, clarinet and oboe before rising to a peak and breaking apart. “The title of the track comes from a particularly vivid dream,” explains Braddock. “I was lying dead in the ground yet somehow conscious. My body was decomposing and being eaten by worms and insects. I could feel things slithering through my eye sockets. In the beginning it was horrifying but ultimately I accepted it and relaxed into it.”
The mesmerising video is a collaboration with an AI called WZRD. The abstract fluidly evolving images sometimes reminiscent of cells and galaxies forming and decaying.
Broad Oak is a recording project from New Zealand born musician/producer and founder of Monkey Records, Nigel Braddock. Featuring melancholy piano, trumpet, strings, and horns, the original loop for the recording was recorded in 2002 in Auckland. Braddock then finished the track while recovering from covid in locked-down Berlin early 2021. “The mood of this track suited my mental state at the time,” says Braddock.
Special guest on the song is Saad’s father, Curtis Fowlkes, an internationally renowned jazz trombonist and in demand session musician who has worked on records by Glen Hansard, Sheryl Crow, Iron and Wine, Horace Andy, Elvis Costello and Lou Reed.
The EP features four remixes from the other two members of the band and two instrumentals.
The Mung Beings are producers Allan Thomasson and Nigel Braddock (from Australia and New Zealand respectively) and vocalist Saadiah Fowlkes from New York. The three met in Berlin where they recorded their debut album, soon to be released on Monkey Records.
Braddock is the founder of Monkey Records and has produced many albums for the label over the last twenty years. Thomasson has played in iconic New Zealand bands Cloudboy and Mink. Fowlkes is a rapper and singer and has performed at venues all over the world, mostly in his hometown NYC and Berlin, his home for nine years. He was a member of the rock/hip hop band Natural Selection and has shared the stage with Wyclef Jean and Mark Ronson.
Goodbye Lockdown is the new single from Berlin-based father and son band, Cosmo and the Cosmonaut.
“Cosmo has been homeschooling for most of the last year and as part of his music lessons we recorded an album,” says the Cosmonaut aka New Zealand-born Monkey Records label boss Nigel Braddock, who was also spending a lot more time at home than usual. “We dedicate this song to anyone who’s been in lockdown over the last year and a half.”
Ten year old Cosmo raps about how the initial novelty of homeschooling quickly wore off and how he just misses his friends, “Now I realise school isn’t so bad, when I see my friends again I will be so glad.” He also takes a swipe at conspiracy theorists, “Some people don’t believe the virus is real, they’ve watched too much YouTube maybe that’s their deal.” Ultimately the message is one of unity and hope, “We need to come together, to stand as one. When this thing’s all over we’re going to have some fun.”
Cosmo and the Cosmonaut invited friends from around the world to take part and the chorus features contributions from Germany, UK, New Zealand, USA, Australia, Portugal, Japan, Greece, Poland, Cambodia and Vanuatu. The accompanying eye-catching music video features each contributor as part of a colourful Zoom choir.
Goodbye Lockdown is the first single to be released from Cosmo and the Cosmonaut’s second album due later in the year. Their first album, Ultra Mega was released in May 2019.