Absolute Elsewhere

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PAUL McCARTNEY'S LOCKDOWN PROJECT (2020): Controlled chaos and creation in the studio

18 Dec 2020  |  4 min read

From time to time Elsewhere will single out a recent release we recommend on vinyl, like this one . . . .   Paul McCartney could always talk up a good album in advance of its release, although the music itself was often uneven. He'd do an exclusive interview in which he'd drop Beatle and George Martin anecdotes, but generally not say much other than to mention a few pointers... > Read more

2020, THE YEAR IN REARVIEW: Sounds from solitude

18 Dec 2020  |  6 min read

It was the year that mostly wasn't, the year when Zoom entered our lives and vocabulary, and people stayed in or stayed apart. It was a year when 18-year old Jawsh685 (Joshua Nanai) from Manurewa High went global with a beat and melody he wrote on his broken laptop (Laxed, Siren Beat) and the 79-year old Bob Dylan surprised with a double album Rough and Rowdy Ways which was... > Read more


12 Dec 2020  |  13 min read  |  5

Some people dislike end-of-year lists, others enjoy agreeing and/or arguing with them. Either way, they exist and most people read them. Our “best of” list always comes with some caveats: we only ever pick from albums we've reviewed (we heard many more but if we didn't have time to write about them... > Read more

MURRAY McNABB PROFILED, AT AUDIOCULTURE (2020): From Monk to the moon and beyond

12 Dec 2020  |  1 min read

The life of keyboard player, composer and innovative jazz musician Murray McNabb was full of ironies. He was a jazz (and beyond) player who was initially inspired by Thelonious Monk but mostly earned his living anonymously writing advertising jingles. He co-wrote the music for one of New Zealand’s most successful feature films but his is not the name most people... > Read more

A LANDSLIDE OF PROVOCATIONS FROM RATTLE (2020): Five albums in five days?

29 Nov 2020  |  4 min read

In its first 15 years after it was launched, the Auckland-based label Rattle was averaging just one release a year. In 2021 the label will celebrate its 30thanniversary and since the late 2000s the release schedule has really hit a cracking pace of albums which cover avant-garde music, classical (traditional and contemporary), jazz, taonga puoro, quasi-pop and everything else which rarely... > Read more

COLLABORATION AND CONNECTION IN THE 21st CENTURY (2020): Psathas, Hooker and digital file sharing

29 Nov 2020  |  3 min read

Three decades ago the American composer Philip Glass fended off a question about “crossover albums”. He preferred to talk of crossover audiences. Glass was observing that those who liked Talking Heads, for example, would also probably listen to the Kronos Quartet or his music. Frequently we see musicians with eclectic tastes pushing into new areas and often... > Read more

LENNON REMEMBERED, AND REMIXED (2020): Does he still shine on?

28 Nov 2020  |  4 min read

When the Beatles were breaking up, more over money and management than over Yoko Ono's permanent presence, Ringo Starr was despatched to see Paul McCartney to tell him that he should delay the release of his solo album McCartney. This was because it would go up against the Beatle's patched-together and patchy Let It Be, scheduled for release a few week later. McCartney was... > Read more

THE RETURN OF ROTOR PLUS (2020): Dream fugues and sonic inner space

23 Nov 2020  |  3 min read

It has been more than seven years since we last heard from rotor plus (sometimes rotor +) when his trilogy of remarkable albums reached their quiet but compelling conclusion with Dust. Beautifully packaged as limited edition art objects (only 300 of each) with photos and collages in the hardback CD format , these interrelated albums – Aileron in 2000, Map Key Window (2004) and... > Read more

UNKLEFRANC, GRAPHIC DESIGNER, AT THE BIG IDEA (2020): The visual gateway into music

11 Nov 2020  |  1 min read

Auckland graphic designer Carolyn van Hoeve prefers to be interviewed by email (her answers forthcoming and considered) and the website for her company UnkleFranc is best described as skeletal: no bio, few photos of her work, some allusive images and a blank page headed “things we haven't thought of yet”. There is however a quote from this writer which notes her work as... > Read more

JAWSH 685 and BENEE (2020): The kids are alright

29 Oct 2020  |  3 min read

When Laxed (Siren Beat)– a simple instrumental by an Auckland teenager – recently became a global hit after US R'n'B star Jason Derulo added lyrics to create Savage Love (Laxed-Siren Beat), there was understandable skepticism in some quarters. After all, 17-year old Joshua Nanai of Samoan and Cook Island background – who is known as Jawsh 685 or Joshua... > Read more

JOHN LENNON AT 80 (2020): Lennon's on sale . . . again!

9 Oct 2020  |  1 min read

The well of John Lennon's solo music is drained dry. In the 40 years since, Double Fantasy, the last album released in his lifetime (with half the songs by Yoko Ono), there has been the posthumous Milk and Honey (further sessions with Ono for an intended album of that title apparently), any number of compilations, the Acoustic album in 2004, the 4-CD box set Lennon released around what... > Read more


18 Sep 2020  |  5 min read

Some time between Elsewhere reviewing his latest album as The Cakekitchen, Trouble in this Town Again and him ending up in hospital with a broken collar bone, Graeme Jefferies kindly sent Elsewhere four of his Cakekitchen releases from the early 2000s. None of these were readily available in New Zealand and they were recorded in Germany when he... > Read more

RUBY SOLLY, AT THE BIG IDEA (2020): Pōneke, poetry & personality

16 Sep 2020  |  1 min read

When Ruby Solly was in Victoria University's jazz school, she studied cello. “Yeah. Superfruity, I know. And there was this idea that I'd never get any work. It was constantly said that if I was lucky, I might get a job on a cruise ship. “I heard that. A lot. “But there aren't many cellists around who can play without scores, and also I'd played in metal bands,... > Read more

KATE OWEN, A VIDEO ALBUM IN THE MAKING (2020): Coping with Covid cleverly

9 Sep 2020  |  1 min read

When singer-songwriter Kate Owen released her album Not a Proper Girl back in March, Elsewhere was impressed and noted that she needed to be seen in concert to be fully appreciated. Of course then the world changed and most people were forced to stay at home.  During lockdown while many did Zoom concerts (with varying degrees of success), Owen made a sries of short films about the... > Read more

THE TECHTONES, REISSUED AND REVISITED (2020): Been a long time since we popped and rolled . . .

3 Sep 2020  |  5 min read

By the time Auckland's Techtones reached their apotheosis with their sole album TT23 in '81, they were gone. In October of that year Frank Stark in the Listener – in a column largely focused on the low-tech ethos of Chris Knox's willfully reductive recording ideology – observed that the Techtones had “joined the fame drain to Australia”. He noted the band had... > Read more

PAUL SIMON: THE CHANGING SOUND OF SILENCE (2020): The song which didn't remain the same

28 Aug 2020  |  1 min read  |  1

It's an unusual thing to observe given he is one of the finest and most consistent songwriters of his generation, but the songs of Paul Simon have invited very few covers. Elsewhere has a shelf of maybe 120 tribute albums to everyone from Ace Frehley (of Kiss) and Joy Division to the Rutles (who never existed), the Grateful Dead and of course many of Leonard Cohen. The shelf for the... > Read more

PAUL McLANEY, AT THE BIG IDEA (2020): Helping to see the sound

5 Aug 2020  |  <1 min read

Few musicians have brought quite as much emotional intelligence and appreciation for the synesthetic relationship between the visual arts and music as Auckland's Paul McLaney. For McLaney, cultural memory and personal imagination feed into what images he chooses for album covers. In a career spanning three decades, he has performed and recorded as an acoustic... > Read more

MERV THOMAS, AT AUDIOCULTURE (2020): Brass bands to Bird Dog, via rock'n'roll

3 Aug 2020  |  1 min read

No other musician could claim to have backed the young rock’n’roller Johnny Devlin, and built the tape recorder on which they originally recorded his debut single Lawdy Miss Clawdy in 1958, to have played Dixieland jazz at Mt Eden’s Crystal Palace ballroom during its heyday in the late 1950s into the 60s – and also to have appeared on the Verlaines’ Flying Nun... > Read more

BRITAIN YAWNING INTO THE NEW DECADE (2020): 1962; The year before the dam burst

22 Jul 2020  |  3 min read  |  1

Was 1962 among the most bland in popular music? The charts from the UK and USA would certainly suggest as much. By the early Sixties, the excitement of the first wave of Fifties rock'n'roll from America (epitomised by Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Little Richard and others) had dissipated. In Britain the big star was still Cliff Richard who, in 1958, had recorded Move It at... > Read more

JUNELLE AND ABRAHAM KUNIN INTERVIEWED (2020): Tibetan words of wisdom, universal sounds of peace

6 Jul 2020  |  9 min read

In a year full of the unexpected, the new album Inner World still surprises. It features the voice of the Dalai Lama speaking words of wisdom and compassion and placed against relaxing soundbeds. The album Inner World, released on The Dalai Lama's 85thbirthday, has already picked up excellent advance notices, perhaps because in a troubled time his thoughts speak to something deeper... > Read more