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Zed Brookes - Album Review: O Sweet Cacophony

27 Nov 2016 // A review by Peter-James Dries

Zed Brookes is a mainstay of the often overlooked Waikato music scene, with a history in music longer than my seemingly endless life.

This becomes less profound when you realise that the tween and teen music consumer demographic of today weren't yet born for first outing of System of a Down, never saw the Britney Spears versus Christina Aguilera versus underdog Billie Piper popularity contest, or even In Da Club by 50 cent.

A dab hand at the music desk, Brookes has spent a lot of time behind the scenes, occasionally finding the time to emerge with a solo or group project.

His latest, 2016's aptly titled O Sweet Cacophony is an exploration in international quality Electronic Pop with Rock sensibilities beneath Brookes' whispered husky vocals and sweet backing singers. An amalgam of ideas and influences, this album is experimental and unique.

I came in expecting a rehash of the Dunedin, Flying Nun sound of old, but can happily report it's kind of like Puscifer, a bit like David Bowie, wholly enjoyable.        

Originally a project for his Master of Arts, Brookes describes O Sweet Cacophony as "a set of experiments in limiting choice to enhance creativity when writing and producing."

Weezer fans, true Weezer fans - not just people who liked Beverly Hills - will know of Rivers Cuomo's overzealous use of spreadsheets. Although I can't find the reference now, I recall there was one that collated certain song's inspirations, level of intoxication at time of writing, and the constraints under which they were written.

It's a seemingly useless piece of trivia I stumbled across during a late night Wikipedia, but something in common with this effort from Brookes. It brings the collection of ideas-made-music that is O Sweet Cacophony back into the realm of art, and that's something I can abide, being long since disillusioned by the concept of a music industry that values the hype of a product over the quality and artistic merit.

Yet, for an art project of sorts, Brookes has a very marketable sound. Spending years in a music store, and behind the scenes within the industry, you'll surely recognise what works and what separates an ephemeral one hit wonder from good music.

By this reasoning there should be a bunch of former Marbecks or JB HIFI employees dominating the music charts, but there's a difference between knowing and applying the knowledge. It takes an artist with the skills to bring all of those ideas together.

An enjoyably relaxing, easy listen for those who can find it, I recommend this to people that enjoy good music that's familiar and warm, yet comfortably detached from the mainstream.

You can find O Sweet Cacophony on the Zed Brookes Bandcamp and Spotify.

 

About Zed Brookes

Zed Brookes was made for music and has made an awful lot of it, mostly for other people. The brains behind Tandys Recording Studio, The Zoo Studio and later WINTECS recording facility at the Dept. Of Media Arts, he helped revolutionise the Waikato scene providing scores of bands and musicians the opportunity to lay down world-class tracks with cutting edge equipment. His diverse credits include Midge Marsden, Knightshade, The Datsuns, Katchafire, The Narcs and way too many more to mention.

In between time he has found a little time for his own music. In 1985 his Hamilton based synth pop band Step Chant Unit’s song Painting Pictures went top 30 on the local charts (the first Hamilton band to achieve this feat) and this paved the way for an appearance on the legendary music show Radio With Pictures. Since there have been numerous other bands and collaborative projects including an album with Te Awamutu based MOoFish whose 1999 album MOofishin spent several weeks on the US College Charts.

Finding the time for his own music has always been a struggle and with Oh Sweet Cacophony’ he has realised is his first true solo project. With the exception of Jan Hellriegel who shares lead vocal of the amazing Not The Girl You Were and Katrina Theo who features on the delicious pop anthem Golden this album is all Brookes. As producer, engineer, multi-instrumentalist/songwriter and vocalist it shows him as so many of those who have worked with him already know, that he is the consummate musical craftsman.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Zed Brookes

Releases

O Sweet Cacophony
Year: 2016
Type: Album

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