Absolute Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

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

GREEN MONKEY OUT OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST (2020): Never too much Monkey business

3 Jul 2020  |  4 min read

When the music industry power players descended on Seattle waving cheque-books in the wake of Nirvana, a number of artists dodged that bullet. As grunge ran its course, many local artists and labels simply carried on making the music they wanted, free of the constraints of marketing, PR and a fickle media. As Elsewhere has frequently noted, we were lucky to have our attention drawn to... > Read more

BOB DYLAN, ROUGH AND ROWDY WAYS (2020): The curtain call for his masterpiece theatre?

21 Jun 2020  |  5 min read  |  1

Pause for a moment to pity those journalists for major newspapers and websites whose job it is to constantly update obituaries. Many obits are easy because most of the subjects are of great age and haven't done anything much in recent decades. But then they look at their words on Bob Dylan. A decade... > Read more

DEREK LIND PROFILED, AT AUDIOCULTURE (2020): The artist in residence

14 Jun 2020  |  1 min read

When Auckland artist and singer-songwriter Derek Lind’s wife died unexpectedly in 2013, his world was shattered. The couple had been married for 35 years; Ra was the mother of their three children, a grandmother and Lind’s supportive companion. Lind had already cut back on releasing albums – his previous release 12 Good Hours of Daylight had been 11 years earlier... > Read more

THE RATTLE ECHO IMPRINT (2020): Sounds from our foreign country

8 Jun 2020  |  4 min read

Anyone who goes back to New Zealand's more experimental and innovative music of the Eighties will be astonished by just how distinctive and different it was. Alongside the tapestry of rock, pop, emerging reggae, soul, synth-pop and all the other mainstream genres was some avant-something music which sometimes seemed almost inexplicable and most certainly indefinable. There was a... > Read more

ROBERT FRIPP 1977 – 1981: (2020): Half a decade of hard work while in retirement

8 Jun 2020  |  5 min read  |  1

For a man who announced in 1976 – after a retreat of a year into philosophical study – that the music business was insane and he couldn't see himself ever getting involved in it again, guitarist Robert Fripp got alarmingly busy while nominally in retirement. His retreat to Sherbourne House in Gloucestershire to go through physical and mental exercises while studying the work of... > Read more


1 Jun 2020  |  5 min read

One of the many bitter ironies of Sam Cooke's greatest song A Change is Gonna Come of 1964 is that the singer never lived to see it become an anthem for the Civil Rights era. Although he had written it at the end of '63 (based on some personal experiences) and it had been released on the flipside of the single Shake in early '64, he was never comfortable with the... > Read more

Somebody Have Mercy (live)


18 May 2020  |  10 min read

At 55, Astrid Kirchherr still loves rock music and listens to it every day: The Beatles, the Doors, Bowie . . . “and Prince, he’s such a genius -- if he just wouldn’t wear those stupid clothes! I always wanted him to look serious, young and sexy. But he dressed like an old prostitute in drag.”  Kirchherr laughs briefly -- the only time in this serious... > Read more

LUKE HURLEY INTERVIEWED (2020): And as we wind on down the road

20 Apr 2020  |  7 min read

Earlier this year we not only favourably reviewed Luke Hurley's new album Happy Isles but also – because he has been such a singular and visible figure in recent New Zealand popular music – we invited him to tell us of his formative years. They were fascinatiing and delivered in his own idiosyncratic style which we didn't change just to capture his voice. But of course there... > Read more

JESSICA MITCHELL, PROFILED (2020): Friends in the far north . . .

20 Apr 2020  |  2 min read

Since someone asked we'll tell you. Elsewhere doesn't find it music by a Spotify algorithm directing us to what it thinks we will like. We're old school: we read release schedules, have an e-mail address where musicians can contact us, we watch the skies and read the wind, and listen to what friends tell us. And it was through a somewhat convulted path with the latter that we came across... > Read more

BOB DYLAN: I CONTAIN MULTITUDES, CONSIDERED (2020): Very well then, I contradict myself.

18 Apr 2020  |  4 min read

In a world far removed from this when young and curious, I would often ask teachers about life and belief. Over time – many decades in fact – I drew down that many Western faiths were based on Know Thyself and those from certain Eastern philosophies No Thyself. The latter appealed to me more. One wise teacher said perhaps it all just came down to one question: Knowing... > Read more

I Contain Multitudes

TAYLOR SWIFT, MISS AMERICANA DOCO, CONSIDERED (2020): She got a suite and you got defeat

3 Apr 2020  |  2 min read

When Taylor Swift's Netflix documentary Miss Americana debuted in January, keyboard fury on social media accused this young pop upstart (who was 30) of appropriating the name of a genre defined by authentic American voices and music. In truth, “Americana” is just a taxonomic device, as vague as “jazz”, “pop”, or “alternative”.... > Read more


29 Mar 2020  |  15 min read  |  3

On December 13 1963, just three weeks after President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Bob Dylan – who had watched the coverage on television and was depressed by the death of the optimistic Kennedy era – attended a fund-raising dinner in New York for the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee. On the basis of his songs like Blowin' in the Wind (which Peter Paul and... > Read more

TROY KINGI, AT AUDIOCULTURE (2020): Preparing the road ahead

9 Mar 2020  |  1 min read

Most musicians don’t see the bigger picture, they’re too busy getting out the single or EP, planning the gig or short tour. But Troy Kingi is not like most musicians, he has a masterplan.  Kingi – singer, songwriter, guitarist and actor among other things – has set himself the project of releasing 10 albums in 10 years. That, as the sports... > Read more

LAURIE ANDERSON INTERVIEWED (2019): The artist as curator and creator

2 Mar 2020  |  5 min read

The irony isn't lost on us: Laurie Anderson, the American multi-media artist on the leading edge of innovative technology, can't get cellphone coverage. Admittedly she's on a construction site but all we have are bursts of static between yawning silences, with which she could doubtless do something provocatively creative. We postpone until she's back in her Brooklyn studio. “This... > Read more

NADIA REID PROFILED (2020): Time has come today

1 Mar 2020  |  2 min read

On recent covers of the British music magazine Mojohave been the Beatles, the Who, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen. All white males, and quite a few dead ones. Inside however the writers cover more diversity in contemporary folk, electronica, hip-hop, rock, jazz and so on. The February issue was interesting. Although Johnny Cash was on the front, the cover-mount CD included a recent Chills... > Read more

MIRIAM CLANCY, INTERVIEWED (2020): In the gutter but looking at the stars

24 Feb 2020  |  4 min read

When Miriam Clancy recently stepped up at Auckland's Wine Cellar, the start of a short national tour, an impressive transformation took place. Minutes before she'd been exchanging hugs with well-wishers and fans, many of whom had enjoyed her two singer-songwriter albums Lucky One(2006) and Magnetic (2009). But this was very different Clancy, one tested and toughened by five... > Read more

ALY COOK, AT AUDIOCULTURE (2020): Highways and red dirt roads on the way

22 Feb 2020  |  1 min read

Aly Cook is a self-starter, more acclaimed outside New Zealand than at home. And although she is very big in Australian country music circles, she grew up in the beachside suburb of Tahunanui in Nelson, the city in which she still lives. A self-managed country singer-songwriter, Cook has crowd-funded her three albums. With the release in September 2019 of... > Read more