17 Oct 2019

Remember Me? | Join | Recover
Click here to sign in via social networking

Al Fraser, Sam Leamy and Neil Johnstone - Album Review: Panthalassa

17 Sep 2019 // A review by Trevor Faville
This trio of highly experienced creators (aided by an impressive cast of guest contributors) have created a suite of sonic explorations with quite clear ‘‘abstract and impressionist” intent. The attendant press notes explain in detail the scope, intent and process of this work. Conceptually it has been thoroughly thought out, and carefully executed.

Suffice it to say that this is a collection of work that is epic in scope and ambition. As its essence they have taken recorded sounds from hydrophonic recordings, and carefully blended in electronic instruments and a range of taonga puru. Two of the pieces feature vocals sung in Te Reo Maori. While the intent is clearly programmatic, there isn’t an overarching narrative sense as such. It feels more like a series of snapshots of a vast., sullen and unknowable landscape. A quick look at the geological definition of the title of this collection reveals a lot.

The titles of the pieces also say a great deal (Paleozoic Dawn, Glacial Imprints, Echolocution),the overall effect is quite non-human, the ‘human’ quality comes from the use of taonga puru, and occasional sung Te Reo - once again empahsising an otherworldly distance from the listener. The skill in the creators is apparent here, the blend is such that it is rare to be able to hear something that is specifically produced by a person. The blend of ‘natural’ and ‘human’ is pretty much seamless- a powerful aural metaphor of environmental awareness- given one of compositional intentions is to reflect on “the potential loss of this environment”.

The key elements are that of timbre, and careful slowly evolving structures. It's the sound of immeasurable forces meeting immovable objects, sudden explosions after aeons of pressure, the sound of ancient alien landscapes with unsettling calms and epic explosives- mountains fall into oceans, watched by giant silent sea creatures. As such, this most certainly does not belong in any ‘relaxing ambient’ playlist and in all likelihood sits right out on the edge of the ‘popular’, but listeners to whom “rock’ includes some of the explorations of Eno (listen to Zawinul/Lava from Another Green World), Bowie, Cale, Can, et al might find themselves on relatively familiar ground. Then, add the work of Varese, Stockhausen, Cage and that particular brand of New Zealand's electronic composers from the 1950's/60's like John Rimmer and Ross Harris, and you could get a sense of some reference points musically (possibly) and conceptually (more likely).

It's all in here. On one hand, not an easy listen, on the other, it's a very easy one indeed - and certainly a rewarding one. Panthalassa as a whole is like the soundtrack to a movie you don’t need to see. There are echoes of the original electronic composers in that sense of an emotional distance which is simultaneously the most alienating and compelling part of this work. It's like looking through a telescope for a detailed view of something a very long way away.
Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

Other Reviews By Trevor Faville

Tablefox - Single Review: Always Always
05 Sep 2019 // by Trevor Faville
Tablefox have been on a career climb since 2013, steadily building momentum with some notable live gigs and recorded work. Along the way the group has grown from three to five and their sound has evolved in scope and focus as a result.
Albi & The Wolves - Gig Review: Albi and the Wolves @ Nivara Lounge, Hamilton - 23/08/2019
30 Aug 2019 // by Trevor Faville
There is a group of New Zealand musicians who are really putting in some time around the touring circuit at the moment. It's cliche to describe them as ‘hard working’ - that's glib and a redundancy - but certainly, the work is getting done and it is showing in terms of their successes.
Single Review: Blue River Baby
06 Jun 2019 // by Trevor Faville
The hard working Wellington based 'electric psychedelic soul and funk rock' ensemble Blue River Baby have released their self-titled and third single as a video. Blue River Baby clearly has the same evolution as Walk of Shame and Black Yard Town.
New Telepathics - Single Review: Life On Other Planets
27 Mar 2019 // by Trevor Faville
The New Telepathics are an Auckland based ensemble with quite an extensive recording and performing history-and a history that deserves a thorough exploration. This is a refreshingly independently minded ensemble.
Blue River Baby - Single Review: Black Yard Town
19 Feb 2019 // by Trevor Faville
The Blue River Baby band have been working and evolving in Wellington for the last two years or so, and this tune is a clear representation of the style and sound that they have developed. Black Yard Town moves through a range of tempo and dynamic changes in a funk/ soul context, with an arrangement that is in one way tight and at the same time fluid.
Album Review: Waiuku College - Our Sound
09 Jan 2019 // by Trevor Faville
Changes in secondary education point towards project based and /or big picture learning approaches which attempts, among other things, to replicate ‘real world situations and experiences. The idea being that learning would involve many curriculum linking into a project or experience.
Gig Review: Panic! At The Disco @ Spark Arena, Auckland - 16/10/2018
18 Oct 2018 // by Trevor Faville
The backstory of Panic! At the Disco makes for some interesting questions when going to this show.
Holly Arrowsmith - Album Review: A Dawn I Remember
10 Jul 2018 // by Trevor Faville
Sometimes it’s good to approach writing a review for a new collection of music by listening to the music first, before reading any of the attendant press, and reviewer info. That way you listen to what you are hearing as opposed to what you are expecting.
View All Articles By Trevor Faville

NZ Top 10 Singles

    Tones And I
    Travis Scott
    Post Malone
    DRAX Project feat. Six60
  • 10,000 HOURS
    Dan + Shay feat. Justin Bieber
    Shawn Mendes And Camila Cabello
    Maroon 5
    Ed Sheeran feat. Khalid
    Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus
    Lewis Capaldi
View the Full NZ Top 40...
muzic.net.nz Logo
100% New Zealand Music
All content on this website is copyright to muzic.net.nz and other respective rights holders. Redistribution of any material presented here without permission is prohibited.
Report a ProblemReport A Problem