1 Aug 2021
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Album Review: It's Already Tomorrow

25 Nov 2020 // A review by Kev Rowland

This compilation is the brainchild of leading New Zealand composer, John Psathas, and past-student guitarist, electronic musician and composer, Jack Hooker. With everyone in bubbles around the world, the idea was to create a collaborative environment for New Zealand artists, where John and Jack created nuggets for others to amend and use as a base for their own musical adventures. The concept was about music being created by artists feeling the changes in the world around them, living through a period of dramatic and unparalleled change, yet that was the only guide.

The result is an album which is incredibly diverse, yet due to the songs all having a grounding in a similar base, there is actually a continuity running through this release that I definitely did not expect. I tend to listen to music which is primarily rock/metal, folk, avant-garde or jazz-based, and it is safe to say there is music on here which does not fit within my normal genres, yet even those from areas I would normally not frequent somehow seem fitting and very much part of a greater whole. Take for instance Purple Pilgrims and their song Ground Piece. They were expecting to be performing at the prestigious South by South West Festival in Texas and instead found themselves stuck in the Coromandel, and they have come up with a piece which is ethereal and beguiling, yet the song which follows, Unlearn by Arjuna Oakes & John Psathas is very different indeed: vocals carry most of the rhythm and melody with a whole host of brass and other instruments providing support in a song which contains elements of lounge jazz and soul and is incredibly compelling.

But it is the two songs which bookend this album which I found the most interesting. The opener is Sappho by Indira Force (indi), and is a combination of voice, woodwind, banjo, kanun (a type of large zither)  and sound effects (plus more) which feels rooted in nature, and each time I play this I imagine being in a small hut in a forest with the rain falling from the sky and then landing on the leaves all around. We finish with Grayson Gilmour and Feather / Folded which according to the musician is thinking about Mother Nature’s indifference to mankind. Ambient and piano-based there is also a real edge to the music, steel within the velvet glove, with radio interference getting in the way. The melody strives to survive, and somehow it does, even though there is so much stacked up against it.

This is an album which really does need to be played a great deal, as although a few songs stood out the very first time I played it, it probably wasn’t until I got to the fifth or sixth listen that it all really started to make sense and I could understand the collective whole and how each song and artist relies so much on the diversity from the others to really make their statement. By setting the simple ground rule that each song had to be developed from what was provided by Psathas and Hooker there is a continuity throughout, while having no other rules whatsoever means the album is incredibly diverse and stays interesting throughout. It brings together 14 New Zealand artists from around the world, across a multitude of genres, with the producers and guest performers living in Germany, Greece, Serbia, as well as right home here in Aotearoa. This is a wonderful album which is worth investigating by anyone who wants their music to be out of the mainstream, yet still melodic and fascinating.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

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