Absolute Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

THE 2023 IMNZ CLASSIC RECORD AWARD: Micronism; inside a quiet mind (1998)

23 Mar 2023  |  2 min read  |  1

This annual award acknowledges an Aotearoa New Zealand record released over 20 years ago on an independent label. Like the Taite Music Prize, the Independent Music NZ Classic Record is a critically judged award for originality considering the artistic merit, creativity, innovation and excellence of an album in its entirety irrespective of album sales, artist popularity, previous awards or... > Read more


GRAMSCI, ON THE RECORD (2023): Paul McLaney on the vinyl reissue of the first three Gramsci albums

20 Mar 2023  |  8 min read

After establishing himself as a gifted singer-songwriter under his own name in the late Eighties and Nineties, Paul McLaney launched his band Gramsci as another vehicle for expression. The band released three albums – Permanence in 2000, Object (2002) and Like Stray Voltage (2005) then there was a lengthy hiatus as McLaney moved on to other projects, notably, travel, his Impending... > Read more

U2 IN THE NOW AND THEN, AGAIN (2023): Back to their past future

18 Mar 2023  |  3 min read

In rock culture, playing Las Vegas is equivalent to one of Dante's circles of Hell – either greed or fraud – where the damned, at the fag-end of their careers, work out their twilight years. That's the cliché, largely based on an image of a bloated and sweating Elvis, emblematic of the neon seduction and curse of Vegas. But megastars – Elton, Cher, Adele, Katy Perry,... > Read more

YOUNG FATHERS INTERVIEWED (2023): Heavy heavy on the sources

13 Feb 2023  |  11 min read  |  1

Young Fathers are an Ediburgh-based band whose music ranges across a number of styles from funk and pop to hip-hop, raggae and more. The trio of Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and Graham “G” Hastings talk us through Heavy Heavy, their third acclaimed album. . How much did the pandemic shape the record? G: "I think the timing for us wasn't that major of a... > Read more

BOB DYLAN: FRAGMENTS: TIME OUT OF MIND SESSIONS 1996-1997; THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL 17 (2023): Darkness but a beckoning light ahead

12 Feb 2023  |  3 min read

The 1980s – which began with the murder of John Lennon – was a cruel decade for those who'd made their reputations in Sixties. After his post-Beatles career resurrection with Wings in the 70s Paul McCartney as a solo artist delivered slick but hollow albums, the Rolling Stones seemed to lose heart and direction as Keith Richards and Mick Jagger sniped at each other, Joni... > Read more

Not Dark Yet (live 2000)


19 Dec 2022  |  10 min read

It's that time again when “best of” lists are prepared and people are outraged by the omissions or inclusions. But music tastes vary and art is subjective, so no one is right or wrong. Here's what we believe to be the 30 finest albums we've drawn attention to this past year (hence the link to our review) with the caveat that – as with our... > Read more


19 Dec 2022  |  11 min read

From where we sat near the stereo, 2022 was an extraordinary year for music. All those “lockdown” albums started pouring through so there were plenty to choose from when it came to particular favourites. Yep, a lousy year for many, especially those like us who endured a seemingly endless and dull second lockdown in Auckland. Last week we posted our picks of the best of... > Read more

AND SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS (2019): Jingle beatle-bell rock

19 Dec 2022  |  1 min read

The Warehouse Stationery outlet store near my place in central Auckland is the last place I'd expect to be surprised by the sounds of their muzak. But a fortnight ago when they played the Beatles' Eight Days A Week it was not just a surprising selection but an enjoyable moment when I looked around at the other customers of all cultural and age demographics. Everyone, and I mean... > Read more


12 Dec 2022  |  4 min read

With rock culture now almost 70 years old, every year – if not every month – is the anniversary of something. And since record companies, artists and accountants discovered the market for reissues, and especially expanded reissues, we've seen scores of them every year roaring at us. Some are comprehensive to the point of being the exclusive domain of obsessive -- like the 19... > Read more

GRAEME JEFFERIES REVISITED (2022): Something's always cookin' in the Cakekitchen

28 Nov 2022  |  4 min read

In a recent correspondence about the vinyl reissue of an early Cakekitchen album, the Kitchen's head-chef Graeme Jefferies said, “my profile in New Zealand is very buried”. Which confirms the adage of the late Ken Nordine: “We all see the world from our own disadvantage point”. We don't mean Jefferies -- he's no doubt right – but Elsewhere's disadvantage... > Read more

Bad Bodied Girl

CHRISTINE WHITE AND THE RAVEN PROJECT (2022): Songs given wings and strings

27 Nov 2022  |  2 min read

Three decades ago singer-songwriter Christine White was a fixture in cafes and at gay, lesbian and folk festivals. With her three-piece band she could be a fiery electric guitarist, there were radio appearances . . . then she seemed to disappear. In fact, the woman who grew up singing in Baptist and school choirs, had pulled large crowds to Auckland's famous Java Jive for her edgy folk-rock... > Read more

Raven (Paddy Free remix)

THE BEATLES' REVOLVER, REHEARSED AND REMIXED (2022): An album of endless invention

21 Nov 2022  |  5 min read

Four years ago the award-winning American composer Laurence Rosenthal, a self-described Beatles fan, said, “I am always fascinated by the fact of their endless creativity, their endless invention”. Rosenthal was 91 at the time and spoke of how the Beatles' music brought his young family together in the 60s “because I could unconditionally admire them”. With... > Read more

I Want To Tell You (rehearsal)

THE STATE OF THE NORTHWEST PACIFIC (2022): People, places and some capital songs

18 Nov 2022  |  5 min read

“Team One, your time starts . . . now! What is the capital of Washington state?” “Ummm . . . Seattle.” “That's incorrect. Team two, the question goes to you. The capital of Washington state is . . .?” “Vancouver?” Unless your specialist subject is American state capitals or the life of Kurt Cobain, the name of Washington state's... > Read more

Satan Made Him Do It

REISSUED ON RECORD (2022): Local artists on vinyl, vinylly

7 Nov 2022  |  2 min read

With the dearth of pressing plants and a backlog of yet another Bowie reissue to be run off, local artists often have a hard time getting their short-run needs met when it comes to having their album out on vinyl. Sometimes it is months after the album's release before it eventually appears on record. And parallel to that problem for newly released albums is the number of older albums... > Read more

THE ROAD TO THE REVOLVER (2022): Say you want a reinvention . . .

5 Nov 2022  |  3 min read  |  2

It's entirely possible that less than a year before they released Revolver, the album many consider a more enduring landmark album than Sgt. Pepper which followed it, the Beatles might simply have called it all off. Exactly a year before Revolver they had released the Help! album to coincide with their knockabout film of the same name – a kind of James Bond spoof as much as a Beatles... > Read more

Paperback Writer (backing track takes I and 2)

LIL' CHIEF RECORDS: TWO DECADES OF MUSIC AND ALBUM ART (2022): Cigarettes and cybernetics

18 Oct 2022  |  3 min read

Auckland's Lil' Chief label first came to attention 20 years ago with the debut album by the Brunettes, Holding Hands Feeding Ducks and the paired release of the Tokey Tones' Caterpillar and Butterfly albums. This was music which was poised, cool, enjoyably effete and well crafted. It was also music which ran against the tenor of the times in local music when garageband rock (the D4, the... > Read more

Bedroom Exotica, the Tokey Tones (2003)


16 Oct 2022  |  3 min read  |  2

There will always be those who announce, “I don't like the Beatles”. But that's like saying, “I don't like America”. Which America don't you like? Which Beatles? The moptop Fab Four, the baroque Beatles of Sgt Pepper, the stripped-back songwriting experimentalists, the slick MOR band of the Abbey Road period . . . As someone clever noted, saying you don't... > Read more


THE SYRIAN CASSETTE ARCHIVE (2022): Taped and bound

9 Oct 2022  |  1 min read

Despite the conspiracy idiots, people posting photos of dinner or their dog and the usual “me living my best life” photos, Facebook is useful for some things. Recently someone posted a link to the Syrian Cassette Archive which is a project to preserve to music of that beleaguered nation which had appeared on cassette in the years before we associated the country with... > Read more

FRAZEY FORD, INTERVIEWED (2022): When the work stopped, work started

9 Oct 2022  |  6 min read

Gabriola, a small island with a permanent population of fewer than 5000, is a 25 minute ferry trip from downtown Vancouver. This is where singer-songwriter Frazey Ford, who came to attention with the Canadian folk-country band The Be Good Tanyas in the early 2000s but has been on a soul music-inspired solo career for more than a decade, retreats “to... > Read more

THE BEATLES. IN MY LIFE, CONSTRUCTED (2022): The baroque way forward

10 Sep 2022  |  1 min read

When John Lennon wrote Help! in early 1965 (“and now my life has changed in oh so many ways, my independence seems to vanish in the haze”) he was feeling trapped by Beatlemania and the fame he had sought. As he would always say, it was true what he said in the lyrics, it was cry for help. And with that one song, more than any other to that point, he began to realise the... > Read more