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Eden Mulholland - Album Review: A Bee Might Bite My Nose

21 Dec 2023 // A review by Corinne Rutherford

Funny, Kooky and gently melancholic at times is one description of respected Australasian composer, songwriter and collaborator Eden Mulholland (Ngati Porou). His most recent release is channeled by a very cute teddy bear. Ten tracks of whimsical children’s songs, A Bee Might Bite My Nose is a beautifully composed fantastical album that draws you in creating a close bond between the listener and the bear.

Now I don’t proclaim to have ever heard a teddy bear talk. But in my imagination, it would sound exactly like this album.

This is the Queensland based Kiwi's first ever children’s album. Sharing the journey with his kids and witnessing their fondness for little bear grow “has been a gift.” The album is a deviation from award winning Mulholland’s back catalogue of impressive commissions, band, solo work, film and dance. However, it’s his inability to be restricted by genre that makes what he does interesting and unique.

It's at this point I will mention that we can thank Eden Mulholland for the stunning scores and soundtracks which have accompanied events such as The Royal NZ Ballet, World Of Wearable Art, FIFA Women’s Cup Opening Ceremony, The Pact drama series on SBS and TVNZ.

Back to the sweet wee bear and the first track on the album which is also the title song A Bee Might Bite My Nose. Even without hearing it I had Old McDonalds Farm going around in my head, the song writing is superb, and the lyrics flow beautifully however you must remember that this album is completely geared up for young children and young children love to put things on repeat over and over and over. I am still trying to recover from monkeys jumping on the bed night after night. My son is 14.

I have reviewed a few family friendly musical artists over the years so one thing I know is you have to be a very engaging storyteller, the music must appeal to little ears and growing brains, also adults will need to be won over one way or another. It is not an easy gig; you are playing to a tough crowd. A Bee Might Bite My Nose ticks all these boxes while also sparking wonder and a sense of comfort.

There is so much more to unpack with this album.

The album cover is a delightful vision, featuring a picture of the cheeky little bear adorned and surrounded by the most beautiful shades of blue and gold. Artwork by Listen To The Graphics. I would frame it and hang it on my wall.

Many of the songs on the track list are based on nursery rhymes so you may find the arrangement familiar, however the entire album is artfully constructed to make the most of the familiar, encouraging the listener to sing along with little (and big) bear.

The soothing rich orchestral sound which weaves its way through each track is all down to Eden. He plays all the instruments. Mulholland gives credit to Little Bear for writing and singing all the songs, but I suspect he may have something to do with it.

A Bee Might Bite My Nose is the kind of album that makes you feel all warm and cozy inside, it has such an innocence to it, an overall feelgood vibe. Each track is a delightful, playful gem that makes it seem like you are wrapped in a nice soft blanket.

Ha Ha Snuffle Snout is a song all about hugs. It is a short and sweet song which is utterly charming, constructed in the same style as Baa Baa Black Sheep.

There is a theme I saws emerging through Bearyanne The Bear, Snuggle Buggle Wuggle, Goodnight Sweet Bears and Sniffle Snuffle Little Bear and that was sleeping or getting too sleep. There may be a little subconscious coercion by little bear to encourage peaceful slumber of youngsters. Personally, I think little bear is very clever.

Little bear has a big personality, which shines through on each track.

Eden’s works has previously been described as “a superb racket of experimental crescendos, cyclic drones, aching falsettos and all manner of pedal mayhem.” This enchanting album is a toned-down version of that but just as accomplished.

All songs written, sang, recorded and mixed by Eden Mulholland and mastered by Chris Chetland at Kog Studio.

 

About Eden Mulholland

When reviewing Eden Mulholland's music a certain peculiarity of composition stands out, and that is his refusal or inability to be restrained by genre. Whether writing an anthemic lullaby such as The Big Empty for his band Motocade (2010) or the hauntingly aggressive The Virus for the dance work Body Fight Time (2012), or the tender yet manic Body Fight Time on his aptly named EP, Jesus Don't You Get My Jokes, the juxtaposition of disparate entities seems to come naturally to him. This makes for a filmic quality to much of his music and it comes as no surprise that he is equally at home composing for dance or film as he is for his band and solo work.

In his music, as in life, anything goes. Sadness can be uplifting, desire be as impassive as a rock and memories be as suddenly vivid as the monitor lizards he occasionally sees on his runs up the hill behind his house. If all this sounds poetic then the cap fits. Even his take on pop music involves unexpected arrivals and departures, conventional and operatic voices, ripped apart rhythms and ethereal bridges, solidly resounding hooks and moody ascents.

It's a compositional approach that is enough, as one reviewer said in reference to his Jesus Don't You Get My Jokes EP, "to give you major goosebumps". But this goosebump inducing element, similar to 'duende' in flamenco music or or 'wairua' in Maori composition, also yields pop's signature 'earworms' as evidenced in songs such as I will Echo from his Feed the Beast album (2013), or Holy Moly from his Motocade album Tightrope Highway (2009), songs that enjoyed radio and video impact and longevity. Consequently his artistic reach embraces both a longstanding loyal niche following as well as commercial recognition.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Eden Mulholland

Releases

A Bee Might Bite My Nose
Year: 2023
Type: Album
Hunted Haunted
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Feed The Beast
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Music For Dance
Year: 2010
Type: Album

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