In the late 1980s, having barely begun what is now a 20-year career, Composer Warwick Blair was already being described as “one of New Zealand’s most original musical thinkers” (NZ Herald) and the “enfant terrible of New Zealand Music” (NZ Listener). His first trip to Europe in 1987 was to perform at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival with legendary Greek polymath Iannis Xenakis using UPIC, an early electronic music system. In 1990 his Aotea Centre-opening orchestral performance 'The Good Seeds Are So Small', performed by the APO and broadcast by Radio New Zealand, was proclaimed concert of the year by seminal music magazine Rip It Up.
Having received an AGC Young Achievers Award in 1989, Blair moved to the Netherlands where he studied electronic music and classical composition with Louis Andriessen, and earned a NUFFIC scholarship from the Dutch Government. In 1991 Blair moved from Den Haag to London. Inspired by 4AD groups Dead Can Dance (featuring Lisa Gerrard) and This Mortal Coil, he began diversifying into the wider realms of pop music and formed the band ‘glory box’.
Blair has given concerts in the UK and Europe, including London’s prestigious South Bank Centre in 1994. His recording career includes material for Phonogram Records ('Glory Box', 1995) as well as orchestral arrangements for ambient techno terrorist 'Scanner' (1997) and the group Mandalay (V2 Records, 1998) – a role that saw him working alongside Madonna/Bjork producer Guy Sigsworth. Reviews have appeared in The Times, NME, Wired and GQ, with radio support coming from BBC Radio 1 and Kiss FM, to name a few.
Blair has composed soundtracks and sound design for Gordon’s Gin, Mastercard, Sky TV and NZ Navy TVCs, as well as working on the film Stargate, the Nintendo game Cartoon Academy, and multimedia presentations for Signpost and Australian Fashion Week for Karen Walker.
Returning to New Zealand in the late 90s, Blair spent a few years lecturing at Auckland University, where originally he earned his Master’s degree in Music (MMus - 1st class, 1987). Most importantly, Blair is now writing his own music again. With 15 years first-hand research into pop culture behind (and presumably still in front of) him, Blair felt compelled to write Accordian, rediscovering the territory that had captivated him in the late ‘80s – an amalgamation of contemporary classical music with elements of electronic pop culture.
Accordion is an exploration of duality and symmetry, and demonstrates a fascination with structure, form & shape. It uses Blair’s new mosaic form, based on making cells visible or invisible depending on the shape imposed over them - the shape in this case being the metaphorical concept of an accordion.
This highly anticipated fusion of pop culture and contemporary classical music will be released on CD in July. Harp, the accompanying single is now available for free download, along with a video by Amber de Boer, from www.amplifier.co.nz.
from the album 'accordian' (manu +/ode 5011)
Download Now [Size: 4.2MB | 3:40 | 160kbps]
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Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 10:33 am
Long awaited album Accordian released to critical acclaim
4 August 2006 - for immediate release
New Zealand composer Warwick Blair's long-awaited new album Accordian was released this week to unanimous critical acclaim from major publications such as Sunday Star-Time, New Zealand Herald and Rip It Up, as well as high rotate playlisting on bNet station Radio One.
"NASA would be wise to somehow incorporate Accordian into their next moon mission," said Rip It Up's Phil Bostwick of Blair's otherworldly soundscapes. Mike Alexander at the Sunday Star-Times responded to Blair's contemplative grooves by describing him as a Zen Buddhist equivalent to German electronic music pioneer Stockhausen.
Warwick Blair has already been described as "one of New Zealand's most original musical thinkers" (NZ Herald) and the "enfant terrible of New Zealand Music" (NZ Listener). His 20-year career has included working alongside UK electronica legend Scanner, Greek composer Iannis Xenakis and Madonna/Bjork producer Guy Sigsworth. He has composed for film, television, multimedia and fashion shows, as well as live orchestral concerts both internationally and throughout New Zealand.
Accordian sees Blair rediscovering the territory that had captivated him in the late '80s - an amalgamation of contemporary classical music with elements of electronic pop culture, a strategy that has clearly paid off with the range of reviews coming in.
Accordian demonstrates a fascination with structure, form & shape. Using Blair's new mosaic form, Accordian is based on making cells visible or invisible depending on the shape imposed over them - the shape in this case being the metaphorical concept of an accordion.
Accordian comprises five movements: 'Harp', 'Trumpet', 'Yes', 'Your My' & 'Cry', each lasting approximately ten minutes. They feature the instrumental forces of female or male voice, trumpet, guitar, harp, piano, marimba, percussion, bass keyboard and tape.
Blair is also interested in the adaptabilty of Accordian. It has undergone various interpretations from scored work for acoustic instruments and electronic sounds to the DJ/VJ improvisation performed at 2006's Splore Festival. The latest incarnation featuring three dancers, five musicians, video projection and electronic sounds was premiered at New Zealand's digital arts festival Interdigitate in April
Accordian is now available from all good music stores and online stockists. Accordian is also available for download from www.amplifier.co.nz along with a video for Harp (single edit) by Amber de Boer.
To celebrate the release of this highly anticipated fusion of pop culture and contemporary classical music, there will be a free electronic performance with live visuals from Amber de Boer at Galatos Lounge on August 31 - visit www.test-tube.tv for further details.
"With evocative, oceanic swells of electronics or instruments which then drift back to the merest trickle of sounds, this is music cinematic in conception but also so inviting of reflection as to be highly personal . The final track is beamed in from another cosmos." Graham Reid, NZ Herald
"If Stockhausen had been a Zen Buddhist, he could have been Warwick Blair. If you like the soundtrack to your headspace to be invigorating and meditative, then Accordian with its gorgeously stark sonic textures animated by throbs, buzzes and processed vocal sounds, is wired to suit." (4/5 stars) Mike Alexander, Sunday Star-Times
"Warwick Blair's highly evolved compositions are the perfect soundtrack to modern rail transport. They're minimalist, strangely eerie, and induce a trance-like state fit for supersonic exploration . NASA would be wise to somehow incorporate Accordian into their next moon mission." Phil Bostwick, Rip It Up
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