PETER HAEDER PROFILED: Portrait of the artist as musical itinerant

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Peter Haeder: Lotus beat (from the album Lotus Beat, 2002)
PETER HAEDER PROFILED: Portrait of the artist as musical itinerant

In a recent conversation this German-born Auckland-based guitarist mentioned an album of his I had forgotten about: it was Kling-Klang (on Ode) and at a guess came from some time in the early-to-mid 90s.

His mention of it prompted me to get it out again because I had been very taken with it at the time.

It was Haeder in a variety of settings from solo, to duets with Steve Garden on percussion and piano, a trio track adding bassist Bob Shepheard, and finally in a quartet with pianist Phil Broadhurst. Even now the album stands up: Haeder's guitars and deep voiced chanting (he is a longtime Buddhist) made for an album that was very different in New Zealand music at the time: not jazz entirely but in that zone.

Haeder -- who sometimes performs under the more enigmatic name phaeder -- really fits nowhere in New Zealand contemporary music.

If Kling-Klang could be described as loosely improvised/experimental, then Lotus Beat in 2002 was dancefloor electronica with Buddhist overtones.

Then last year came two albums released simultaneously and which were featured on Elsewhere: the gentle but probing acoustic guitar album Emerald, and its companion Singularity which was Buddhist chants alongside gentle prog-rock electronics.

It came after an intense meditation retreat in South India where he recorded the chants which are woven through the tracks.

Haeder is perhaps best described as avant-garde -- but in New Zealand that often means someone working independently and in the absence of any guides or followers. Haeder is certainly doing that.

It makes him unique but also, given the connections his work has, part of a global musical culture rather than a specifically local one.

Recently he has posted some internet-only material on his website which are little short of cut-up cosmic trips of treated vocals, synth beats and guitars, and astral-jazz attitude. Think avant-jazz from an alternative nightclub on Saturn. They are exceptional, challenging and beguiling.

There are few musicians anywhere who have such mastery of acoustic guitar, electronica, beats and Buddhism, not to mention the interplanetary flights of his internet work now posted.

I bring the eclectic Peter Haeder to your attention because he and his music truly embody the spirit of Elsewhere.

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