Dudley Benson: Forest, Songs by Hirini Melbourne (Golden Retriever)

 |   |  1 min read

Dudley Benson: Tirairaka. Fantail
Dudley Benson: Forest, Songs by Hirini Melbourne (Golden Retriever)

Those many of us seduced by Dudley Benson's previous album (and EPs which preceded it) might not have anticipated the manner of this new one, an entirely a capella art music project based on the poems (birds, the spider) by the late Hirini Melbourne who, with Richard Nunns, led the revival of taonga puoru (tradional Maori instruments) . . . and it is sung almost entirely in te reo (Maori).

These gentle poems sung by Benson and his a cappella outfit The Dawn Chorus are also accompanied in places by King Homeboy on gentle beat-box sounds. And Gerry Findlay adds discreet, convincing bird calls in two pieces.

There is lightly choral feel in some songs (the holy sounding Pipiwharauroa/Shining Cuckoo where the choir repeat a lovely minimalist phrase in the manner of Meredith Monk). But Ruru -- in English -- comes off like a rather mannered rap which doesn't entirely work, and ends with Nunns introducing the sound of some taonga pouru which sounds a little perfunctory.Joshua_Thomas___Hanna_Lee__2010

Because this is so gentle and poised, it is very enticing and the final track Kiwi, a 10 minute tone poem and subtitled a lament for Aotearoa, is exceptional. A real holy moment where quiet speaks volumes and Benson's voice at times sounds close to anguish and tears.

Benson has established himself as a unique figure in the New Zealand musical landscape and projects like this confirm the breadth and depth of his ambition and vision.

In this instance it also acts a warm and welcome tribute to Melbourne, and Benson connects Western art music and indigenous sounds, whether they be taonga pouru, waiata or bird songs. 

Share It

Your Comments

S & T - Nov 16, 2010

The album is fantastic and the live performance was exceptional!

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Bob Dylan: The Witmark Demos 1962-64 (Sony)

Bob Dylan: The Witmark Demos 1962-64 (Sony)

There's a case the most important person in Bob Dylan's early career wasn't his inspiration Woody Guthrie (the folk singer he traveled to New York to meet and whose style he adopted), nor Suze... > Read more

Hollie Smith and Mara TK: Band of Brothers Vol 1 (EMI)

Hollie Smith and Mara TK: Band of Brothers Vol 1 (EMI)

Although this collaboration with Mara TK of the electronica outfit Electric Wire Hustle will doubtless be read in some circles as a departure for Smith, most often known for her sky-scaling soul... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

EPs by Shani.O

EPs by Shani.O

With so many CDs commanding and demanding attention Elsewhere will run this occasional column by the informed and opinionated Shani.O. She will scoop up some of those many EP releases, in... > Read more

Greg's wife's Kotosoupa Avgolemono (chicken soup with egg and lemon sauce)

Greg's wife's Kotosoupa Avgolemono (chicken soup with egg and lemon sauce)

Given the climate in New Zealand right now this is the recipe we have been awaiting for. This is courtesy of Greg's Greek/Cypriot wife and we are assured is renown as a cure for colds. Even if... > Read more