30 Nov 2021

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Darryn Harkness - Album Review: Rare Grooves And Tone Research Volume 1

13 Oct 2021 // A review by Roger Bowie
I met Darryn Harkness a few weeks ago when he supported Andrew Fagan in a little gig in a little bar called The St Heliers Bay Pigeon Racing Club. Yes.

Well that little encounter has set me off on a journey of discovery about one of Auckland’s more prolific groove merchants hiding out in a little Queen St studio and just making music. Lots of it. From a host of projects. Including but not limited to the Institute of Telepathic Research which no doubt spawned the Afro beat funk New Telepathics. Or scared the shit out of the ceiling and woke up the Loud Ghosts. Or piled heaps of Laoganma on top of King Ketchup. And on and on From Scratch to Serafin to the artwork of the Hallelujah Picassos.

I had a very fine chat with Darryn just the other day which you can see as a companion piece to this little exposé in my interview series, 'It’s a Wrap with Roger' here.

And now Darryn Harkness has released the first of what will be three albums from songs from his vaults, and for almost the first time, under his very own name. Revealing himself through his history. First up is Rare Grooves And Tone Research Volume 1, which contains 10 more recent tracks before we get Volumes 2 & 3 (I presume he will title them thus, but you never know), which go back to earlier decades.

What sort of music is this? Well it’s about the groove, ‘innit, it’s all about the groove. Driving percussive rhythm, chanting vocals (unless not), bubbling space travels, harsh saxophone riffs, soft guitars. New wave African funk, 90's electronica, a little Germanic craft at work, a halfway house; a talking heads cacophony and commotion of groove, gentle groove, galloping groove, garrulous groove. Not to mention childhood influences such as Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman and Captain Beefheart. Seriously.

Devil in Her Hand is like Delaney Davidson’s haunted blues looped into an 80’s Connie Plank groove.

Ballad of a Bad Brother is not about his brother; Solar Research is definitely about time travel; Get What You Want defines the musical journey, just go with the notion and what feels right and feel what’s right.

It’s not commercial, it’s not pop, apart from the parts that are. Darryn Harkness is not about big name success or recognition. Darryn Harkness is about friendship and funk and just letting go.

Darryn Harkness has opened for Muse, has always pushed boundaries, and has squatted in London (which is not the same as shitting); has always been a big fan of Fela Kuti, has played with his (Kuti’s) guitar player, and lived in Weimar Germany (but not before the war).

Make sure you listen to his music before he dies. He doesn’t think you will. Prove him wrong. He’d like that. He’d think that groovy.

And if you can’t manage that, watch out for him playing live. He might just tour some of this music. Maybe with a band. Maybe not. It would be the same as listening to him before he dies. Just as groovy.

NB My rating is 3.5 stars.

Rating: ( 3 / 5 )

About Darryn Harkness

Song writer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Darryn's previous bands include Braintree, Spacesuit, Serafin and Dead Flowers (bass). Current bands include Loud Ghost, New Telepathics, King Ketchup, Andrew Fagan band, Halleujah Picassos and From Scratch.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Darryn Harkness


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