FURTHER PROVOCATIONS OF RATTLES (2023): From the sublime to the not-mundane

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FURTHER PROVOCATIONS OF RATTLES (2023): From the sublime to the not-mundane

As we have previously noted in these columns about provocations from Auckland's Rattle, the label is so productive we sometimes find it necessary to just to scoop up four releases at a time.

Last year for example Rattle released 10 albums – from Brahms to Brett Adams – and this year has another 10 on its books so far.

So in running to keep up, we offer here pocket edition reviews of four of the label's latest to add to our previous reviews of this year's Rattle releases by percussionist Justin DeHart and singer-songwriter Guy Wishart.


Griffin, Meehan, Voyce: Wahine

Singer Hannah Griffin, pianist Norman Meehan and guitarist/keyboard player Thomas Voyce – with guests Blair Latham (bass clarinet) and flugel player Nick van Dijk – present a collection of musical settings for the work of New Zealand writers: six pieces by Hinemoana Baker, two from Cilla McQueen and one miniature by Janet Frame.

rat2Unlike many respectful, politely reverential projects which sometimes sound as if the musicians are unwilling to insert their own personality, here they confidently place equal prominence on the settings.

So McQueen's Photon thrums along like electronica ballad in its second half (with cut-up sampled vocals) and leads into the synth-pop treatment of Baker's I Forget You (with a throbbing undercurrent and a soulful delivery by Griffin).

Baker's Liver is taken on with a deeply punctuating bass and a touch of jazz-fusion along with Griffin's sensitive interpretation of the poem (the fusion cropping up again in the following Tihei) and there is a different, spare ballad version of I Will Forget You with Latham's earthy bass clarinet.

Interest of course alights on Frame's economic Before I Get Into Sleep With You: “Before I get into sleep with you/I want to have been/into wakefulness too” (from The Goose Bath, a posthumous 2006 collection of previously unpublished poems).

It is a poem which requires the respectfulness they give it, every word teased out.

Unlike most similar albums of poetry set to music, this excellent collection – with appropriate cover art by Viky Garden – has sinew as much as sensitivity.

Highly recommended.


You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here


Peter Hobbs: Luminescence

Sonic artist Hobbs who works with ambient sounds and electronics appeared at Elsewhere for his 2021 album Oro with taonga puoro player Horomona Horo on Rattle's Seventh House imprint for “ artists who unapologetically follow their muse free of commercial or generic confines . . . music discovered in the process of being formed”.

rat1It was one of the albums in our Further Outwhere category.

This current album however – not on Seventh House – has pieces along the lines of atmospheric electronica (Marama very much akin to Vangelis' work for Bladerunner) and the exploration of electro-acoustic sound (the spacious and spacey Triangulator).

It's no surprise Hobbs has won awards for some of his many film and television scores – among them Return to Gandhi Road, Jean and Tangiwai -- because many of these six pieces sound directed towards soundtracks . . . perhaps the evocative Ihumatao which suggests a passage of time, wind, water and Maori koauau and purerehua already was?


Recalibration 2

You can hear and buy this album here


Unwind: Daylight

The Unwind jazz trio of Norman Meehan (piano), drummer Julien Dyne and bassist Paul Dyne have appeared twice previously at Elsewhere but for Daylight they add saxophonist Hayden Chisholm (also briefly on taonga puoro) for a collection of mostly Meehan originals which closes with a intelligently under-sentimental segue from How Great Thou Art into Amazing Grace then Pokarekare Ana.

rat3There are some lovely pieces here, especially the languid Charles Atlas at the midpoint which sounds as if every extraneous note has been erased from Meehan and Chisholm's charts leaving just the essence of a ballad.

Ahipara suggests summer days at that remote Northland beach, yearning blues comes to the fore in the equally spare opening passages of the medley Going Home/Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen/Foolish, and Three Dons is a classically cool midnight-blue ballad.

A classy and sophisticated release but perhaps too conservative for those who like their jazz to push, pull and provoke.

Forty Words

You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here


Frank Talbot: Mundane Life Updates

In brief liner notes, saxophonist explains the under-selling title on this album (which is anything but mundane) with pianist Ayrton Foote, bassist Phoebe Johnson and drummer Hikurangi Schaverien-Kaa, the latter the only one who has appeared at Elsewhere previously.

rat4Being young(ish) jazz players they are out to make a statement on these 10 Talbot compositions so when energy is required they respond with enthusiasm.

They also enjoy the quirky nature of some tunes (the jaunty playground stomp of A Close Second) but can play a straight bat to the swinging lite-bop (25 Dollars-Doos, Intervallic) and on two tributes to Talbot's late mother; the tender Steak and Kidney Pies, Easy Goodbyes and the emotionally aching Empty Beds. ("No matter how much time one has in advance, nothing prepares you for the sight of an empty bed").

There is heart, soul and humour on this album where the music has been prompted by death, simple walks, the Buddha and Sonny Rollins.

Those are damn fine reference points.

And again, this is not mundane.

A Close Second

You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here

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