Hard News by Russell Brown

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Friday Music: This stuff works

The Friday music post here was never planned: it just drifted into being. Today it takes a step up: ladies and gentlemen, we have a sponsor. For the next little while, the Hard News Friday music post will be modestly supported by theaudience.co.nz.

The Audience is a  New Zealand music discovery website funded by NZ On Air, and thus a welcome (if overdue) bid to recognise the way artists and fans act and interact in the internet music era. It's a hype site. Design-wise, it's similar to We Are Hunted -- a tiled "chart" format -- but you actually get to vote for this chart. And -- this is so delightfully New Zealand:

Ten times a year the number one track goes forward for a $10,000 NZ On Air Making Tracks grant.  That money would contribute to the making of a recording and video.  NZ On Air expects to fund one song selected by theaudience per funding round.

That's from the press release. If this is actually explained on the website, I can't find it. They should fix that. And I would really like an embeddable player to present tracks here. I'd like to be able to skip ahead in the onsite player, and to not feel like the progress bar in that player is disappearing off the top of my screen. But apart from that, it's really working for me.

A quick few finds (feel free to add your own in comments):

A cracking bit of Diplo/MIA-style business from Loui The Zu, a 17 year-old born in Zimbabwe and living in Auckland. I've heard his name but didn't know how to spell it or what he does. Glad to find out.

A couple of slinky, literate self-aware little tunes from a duo called Gentlemen. Had never heard of them.

Some nice, smooth drum and bass from Soulflex. If you click to declare yourself a fan, links appear on the track pages for free downloads. Not just MP3s, but WAV files. Goodness gracious.

And a fucking lovely new track called 'Confetti' from She's So Rad. It swirls and it swoons. Again, available for free in WAV or MP3 format.

As you might expect, The Audience is closely integrated with social media platforms. You can sign in with your Twitter or Facebook details, share to those and other services and look up the socials of the artists themselves.

Five years ago, Andrew Dubber and I wrote a somewhat disorderly report for NZ On Air declaring that the focus of music discovery was shifting to the internet and the funding agency had to find a way to follow that trend. I think they're there now.

Meanwhile ...

You can download 'Travelling Shoes', the first single from Lawrence Arabia's forthcoming new album The Sparrow by clicking where it says "click here" below. This song really stood out for me at the album preview show a little while ago:

If you'd like to get out in front and lock in your chance to say you heard it first when something blows up in two years time, The Corner music blog has posted the single download of Awesome Feeling 6, the latest iteration of the emerging acts compilation it inherited from Real Groove magazine and has been drip-feeding throughout New Zealand Music Month.

I've been thinking a bit this week about a record that isn't new -- but is in fact a lost New Zealand classic. Ermehn's 1998 hip hop album Samoans Part II apparently bombed at the time, then disappeared altogether along with its pioneering label, Deepgrooves -- but it's one of my favourite New Zealand albums.

The first single, 'Walls of Steel' kicks off with  real NZ music moment: a bustling rap by the guest on the track, Tha Feelstyle -- in Samoan. (Feelstyle, under his real name, Kas Futialo, won a Pacific Music Award last night.) It's Samoan Language Week, and today is the offical 50th anniversary of Samoan independence. Which means that you should listen to this.

Yes, it's just a still frame. The actual video, which is a riot, has disappeared, presumably thanks to Warner Music's indiscriminate copyright ban-hammer. I have some people looking for it right now. This clip was uploaded by Peter McLennan, who has done a wonderful job of documenting the Deepgrooves legacy, towards a Deepgrooves book due next year.

And finally, something completely different. Craig Ranapia is in London at the moment, and his somewhat underwhelmed response to visiting the Tate Modern sparked a little Twitter conversation this week. I, too, was left a bit cold by the Tate Modern -- with the very, very notable exception of the Rothko room. Those paintings are the closest I've come to synaesthesia. I genuinely felt as if I heard them. Funny that, said Andrew Dubber, because in 1971 the composer Morton Feldman composed a work called 'Rothko Chapel', which is exactly what those paintings sound like. And it really is:

So that's it for this week. Thanks again to The Audience, whose support gives me a little budget for music, and to do things like take a Spotify subscription, which I'll write about next week. For now, here's our sponsor's logo:

theaudience

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