Ultra Mega by Cosmo and the Cosmonaut out now

A Berlin-based father and son electronic music duo, Cosmo and the Cosmonaut released their debut album, Ultra Mega, in August 2019.

Featuring songs about climate change, the stupidity of war and not wanting to go to school, Ultra Mega addresses some of the most important issues facing kids (and adults) today. It’s not all about serious topics though; Ultra Mega Yum Yum is a celebration of their favourite food and I Like Water is a gargled anthem to H2O.

“A couple of songs also function as a form of therapy, for example the Shut Up Song”, explains the Cosmonaut. “Cosmo was going through a phase of telling me to shut up so I said, hey let’s write a song about that and you can tell me to shut up as much as you like. Now he gets the satisfaction of telling me to shut up a bunch of times whenever we play that song. We Are the Dumbheads was a reaction to a situation where Cosmo ended up feeling bad and calling himself a dumbhead and I said no, I’m the dumbhead for not anticipating that situation (which I should have). In the song, being a dumbhead becomes something positive and silly.”

Regarding the inspiration for the songs, “A lot of them began while riding our bikes around our neighbourhood. I would sing the bassline or do some beatboxing and Cosmo would rap on top. In the beginning, I was writing most of the music and lyrics but towards the end, Cosmo was coming up with some great ideas. He also plays keyboards and recorder on a couple of tracks.”

The Cosmonaut is a musician and producer and just happens to have a recording studio set up in his lounge so recording was an uncomplicated affair. “There was always a mic set up ready to go for whenever we felt creatively inspired”, says the Cosmonaut. Recording of the second album is already well underway. “We’re planning to release an album a year.”
It’s no coincidence that the Ultra Mega album begins with the words of 15 year old climate activist Greta Thunberg, “You’re never too small to make a difference”. “She made a big impression on us,” says the Cosmonaut, “and we thought if we record these songs and even if just one person hears them and makes some positive changes, then we will have made a difference.”

In the closing song of the album, This Is the End, eight year old Cosmo and his dad sing “Be kind to all, that’s our message.” Sounds like a mantra worth repeating.

Debut single from Cosmo and the Cosmonaut

Berlin-based father and son electronic music duo, Cosmo and the Cosmonaut, will release their debut album, Ultra Mega, in August 2019.

Their first single, The World is Burning, addresses the issue of climate change through the eyes of a seven year old and features the voice of fifteen year old climate activist Greta Thunberg.

LYRICS

I’m only seven years old and I’m just a kid
But it’s clear in my mind that we must forbid
The burning of fossil fuels, it’s causing climate change
So please tell me why we can’t arrange

Clean, green energy for the whole earth
It’ll cost lots of money but surely it’s worth
To save us people, the animals and the planet
I think it’s high time that we demand it

Come on people, we must do something
Come on people the time is now
Come on people the world is burning
Come on people let’s work it out

The weather is changing and it’s easy to see
Even for a kid as young as me
The summers are hotter than ever before
In winter there’s no longer snow outside my door

So politicians stop clowning around!
There’s no question, the science is sound
Make the changes before it’s too late
Otherwise you will have sealed our fate

Come on people, we must do something
Come on people the time is now
Come on people the world is burning
Cosmo on people let’s work it out

Come on people

Come on people, we must do something
Come on people the time is now
Come on people the ice is melting
Cosmo on people let’s work it out

Come on people, we must do something
Come on people the time is now
Come on people the ice is melting
Cosmo on people let’s work it out

Come on people

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