18 Jan 2022

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Malachim - Album Review: Vitasphere

05 Sep 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

I was sat working away at my desk one evening recently, when I had a message come through from TeMatera Smith, asking if I would be interested in hearing a brand-new album which he had literally just finished mixing. Of course, I said yes, and he provided me with a Soundcloud link to this release, which immediately blew me away. My mind was further damaged when it transpired that this is a solo release from TeMatera himself. These days TeMatera is most widely known as a producer for the likes of Troy Kingi, as well as running AAA Records and Red Room Studios. However, it needs to be remembered that he started his career as a guitarist, was a member of the Sony-signed Sundog in the UK, while in NZ he was guitarist and singer in The Symphony of Screams who as well as releasing some wonderful albums were also the highest ranked local support act at Rock2Wgtn 2008 where they played on both nights, supporting the likes of Kiss and Ozzy Osbourne.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see TSOS play a few times, and always enjoyed the sheer power and might of their grunge metal approach, so if someone had told me that TeMatera had recorded a new album I would have expected something similar. In fairness, TeMatera has been involved with many NZ artists over the years, mentoring, guiding, recording, producing etc, and very few of these are actually metallic in any way whatsoever, but I did not expect something which is ambient, New Age, and deeply compelling. TeMatera says, “Each track written in the key of its associated astral sign. Made with the intention to align and bring into presence the listener, aiding concentration, meditation, and sleep.”

His star sign is Scorpio, which is in C, while mine is Taurus and is in A, but while each song is in a different key, they are all bound together by the same ambient tranquility and presence which makes this such a compelling and incredibly deep piece of work. It is music you can fall into like a deep pool, looking up and seeing the layers, hearing the sounds of the water as you drift to the bottom with the air slowly escaping from your lungs... There is a need to play this on headphones, or very loudly in a room where there are no distractions whatsoever, as this takes over the senses, moving the brain into new directions. In that respect it totally achieves what TeMatera wanted; there is a deepness and contemplation within, with elements of Leo being almost whalelike. There is never any rushing in any of this, rather every note is taken in deliberate steps, with forethought present in everything that is happening. One may not know where the path is going to lead, but it has been carefully constructed and we are being led in a manner we just do not understand.

There is a solidity to this, a physical form which is much stronger than many music I hear in this style, and the result is a constrained and restrained power. There is never a threat or edge, rather that we are being taken on a journey which we need to complete. This is powerful indeed.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

Other Reviews By Kev Rowland

Gig Review: Blindfolded and Led To The Woods @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 15/01/2022
16 Jan 2022 // by Kev Rowland
I have been looking forward to tonight for ages, as Auckland went into lockdown in August with all gigs being cancelled until just before Christmas, and even then, that was with limited attendance. This means that tonight was going to be my first gig in five months, and given that I covered more than 30 in the first part of the year, that was some cold turkey.
Fool's Lagoon - Single Review: Bizarre
13 Jan 2022 // by Kev Rowland
Bizarre is the debut single from Auckland-based quintet Fool’s Lagoon. Mark, Connor, Joe, Matt and Joshua have created a bright and summery indie pop jangler which is heavily guitar-based yet is somehow light and airy throughout.
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There is always that little hint of concern when reading a press release for a new EP and realise it contains a quote from yours truly for the single which was taken from it. How would they take it this time around if I panned this release?
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Pass The Peas - EP Review: Pop
06 Jan 2022 // by Kev Rowland
This three-track EP is the latest release from Poneke-based quintet Pass The Peas, who describe their music as Wasabi spicy Rock n' Roll, whatever that means. To my ears it means they play mid-paced alternative pop rock with a strong concentration on the gravelly and emotional vocals of Kurt with loads of space within the arrangements, which are well-produced.
Black Sands - Single Review: Apocalypse of Eden
22 Dec 2021 // by Kev Rowland
To my mind this single is long overdue, as I have been lucky enough to catch these guys play live a few times this year and they always put on an amazing show. Comprising Cameron Owens (guitars), Ruaidri Keens (guitars), Matt Hammond (bass) and James Trimmer (drums) they are one of those very rare breeds, a hard-hitting metal act with no need for a singer.
Kev's Top 10's - 2021
20 Dec 2021 // by Kev Rowland
2021 has been a strange year, of that there has been no doubt whatsoever, but although everyone in Auckland is champing at the bit to be let out into the real world, it is probably best to remind ourselves that until we went into lockdown in August we were the envy of the world with festivals, plenty of beer, and the country being totally open (apart from the borders). At that time, I had been to more than 30 gigs, and was on course to hit 50 for the year, never thinking for a minute that August would be the last time I saw a band play live.
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