non-fiction rock from Aotearoa New Zealand

Posts tagged “Stefan Neville

BlokeBird by DSLB

BlokeBird by DSLB album coverDSLB’s first solo album, BlokeBird was released tonight on our skirted Records label. Over a few bottles of Parrot Dog, we (Kieran and I) celebrated our 11th skirted release.

BlokeBird has been much loved in the making. Big ups to those folk who have contributed colour and graft. Cheers to Stefan Neville of Pumice fame for a little classy noodling on File Miles from Anywhere, to Jack Trolove for great photos and to Kieran for hours and hours and hours of everything else.

DSLB (Ditzy Squall’s Lunchbox) has morphed out of a cranking Wellington-based project called Ditzy Squall (Chrissie Butler, Aaron Lloydd and Kieran Monaghan). The sideways lyrics and stacked up patterns still dominate the songs, but in BlokeBird the songs are anchored in low-fi clatter and field recordings rather than the angular pop of Ditzy.

Grayson Perry and familyThe title track Bloke Bird was inspired by Grayson Perry, the winner of the Turner Prize in 2003. Perry’s win achieved some kick back from the Fine Art’s establishment plus a few column inches in the international press. Not only was it deemed inappropriate for a ceramic artist to scoop a major fine art award, but to pick it up crossed-dressed with your family at your side was quite a story,

The last track, Lucky Hunt also has a story of its own. It was an attempt at a day tape, a project constraint where you give yourself 24 hours to write and package a whole album of songs.

My 24 hours was an overnighter in a hut, in the bush, in the rain, with Garageband and a little orange guitar for company. I didn’t crank out and package a complete album. Instead I wrote Lucky Hunt and made a “behind the scenes” spoof video of “The making of Lucky Hunt”. That’s the video below. Not very serious, but at least you now have some insider knowledge of the instrumentation!!

You can find out more about BlokeBird and DSLB on DSLB’s Facebook page. Or check out the skirted Records BandCamp for DSLB’s BlokeBird and take a look at Ditzy Squall’s Skirt. If PayPal isn’t your thing, drop us an email and we can see what we can do.


Transit launch party video

Here’s a cut up from the Transit album launch party @ the Russian Frost Farmers in March. For Hamilton punters, it’s a glimpse of what’s coming your way.


Review of TRANSIT, in NZ Musician

A new review of the album TRANSIT as posted in the April/May edition of NZ Musician
Original link HERE

Transit album cover“MR STERILE ASSEMBLY : Transit
By Steph Gray
They’ve said it themselves: this is not lounge music. But if you like the idea of ‘outsider punk’, appreciate jazz, poetry and math rock precision, ‘Transit’ is for you. The fifth release by the Mr Sterile Assembly, it is both an album and an exhibition of artworks. Charismatically assertive two-piece Chrissie Butler and Mr Sterile secured the talents of Dean Hapeta (aka Te Kupu), Jeff Henderson and Maria McMillian among other collaborators for this production. The result is a literate, rich and engaging double album. Each song is accompanied by an art-piece. My favourite is Pop Sickle – dedicated to the Waihope 3 – and matched by Stefan Neville’s eponymous etching. And if you like information with your art and music, the Assembly have added a third layer by published hyperlinked lyrics on their website. As sources of allusion and inspiration, the links are a mad romp around the Assembly’s creative process, taking you to Hone Tuwhare’s poems, NZ nuclear-free legislation, and an image search for ‘Israeli wall’. The Assembly are celebrating this release, and their tenth birthday, with a national and international tour to Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. ‘Transit’ was mostly recorded with Mike Gibson at Inca Studios and released by Skirted Records and Tenzenmen.”


Transit, the album

Transit album cover

Transit album cover

Here is the story of Transit, the fifth album by mr sterile Assembly. There are links to individual pages with interactive lyrics. The story of how the album came into being, plus reviews, images, and any additional detritus associated with this release. cheers

01. Hibakusha
02. Jesus heals the Blind
03. I Robert
04. Whyt
05. Pop Sickle
06. March of the Fulfillmen
07. Bug my Ride (revisited)
08. Stella
09. Drought
10. Axe and the Olive Tree
11. Transit

Reviews: NZ Musician, Southland Times Invercargill, Seagull Chainsaw (AUS), Ghetto Punk Rocker(USA), Sea of Tranquility (USA), Punkas.com (NZ), LioncityDIY (SG), The Organ (UK)

mr sterile Assembly album Launch, at The Russian Frost Farmers Gallery. Photo by Karen Melhuish

mr sterile Assembly album Launch, at The Russian Frost Farmers Gallery. Photo by Karen Melhuish

An introduction.

Transit, the fifth album by mr sterile Assembly was released March 25 2011. The album took just over one year to complete from its inception point in late December 2009. The Assembly had recently complete a small Aotearoa NZ tour with the Czech group Uz Jsme Doma, in which an offer to the Assembly was made to tour Europe sometime in mid-2010.  Offers like this spawn plans, and one of these was a recording project.

Two surprises in one day: dollars and departure.

An application was made with CNZ for a recording grant, the idea to record the duo bass and drums unit, in preparation for the tour. However, and much to our surprise, the day the letter of astounding confirmation  of $$ came on the same day Sarsha Doulas decided to quit. The tour almost happened but due to personal reasons had to be abandoned at the eleventh hour.

From band reproduction to project.

This caused some serious rethinking on how to approach the project. What developed over the coming months was a growing project of fantastic proportions. We wanted to maintain the energy and feel of the twin bassists so we approach a sterile member from previous times, Aaron Lloydd, to plunk the strings. We knew he had a solid and creative understanding to our approach. Next we contacted another sterilite, Jeff Henderson, to add saxophone on a number of tracks, and Nell Thomas to add special tonal colour on a couple of tracks. Nell plays a a Javanese instrument called a Gender, and we felt this was a perfect instrument to add depth to a particular song, Stella, based on an story of some dear friends in that country.

Mike Gibson was enlisted early on to the initial recording of primary bass, bass, drums track, and to mix and master the final collection of songs. Dean Hapeta aka Te Kupu became deeply woven into the development of the album. He offer Matakahi Studio to us so we could add all lyrics, additional sounds, and the sax tracks. During a number of conversations, we also came to the conclusion that there were spaces available that called out for extra words. Dean listened intently over months to lets the ideas grow, and his response to the challenge  of these four songs is spectacular.

Inca studios and the NZSIS

Working with Mike at Inca studios also took on a particularly delicious an ironic feel. When I first met Mike to discuss the project, he almost incidentally commented that the studio use to be the home of the NZSIS, the government security intelligence service. The main record room that we were situated in was the old safe, the home of all those secret files from years gone past of union activist, conscientious objectors from previous international armed conflicted, and any other ‘radical’ who opposed the government of the day. That we should find ourselves in this space, performing our songs about the governments attempts to survey citizens, of this countries role in international spy rings, and the police’s employment of a particular individual as a failed covert spy to protest activity couldn’t be more perfect. (note:the SIS still is a functioning arm of the NZ govt, it simply relocated to a different building)

Collaborative lyrics

As well as having Te Kupu’s text in the songs, mr sterile collaborated over several months with Wellington poet Maria McMillian on the song Drought. Maria was invited to this collaboration as not only do we consider her a poet of fine standing, but the commitment to her political activity of opposing the privatisation for water would inform the similar content of the song further. The word’s were ferried back and forth over months, being stretched and teased into existence, then edited down into the form on the album. This reworking process continued up until moments before the words were committed to the recording.

Once the mix, which took several weeks, the mastering, and completing of art design, all the finished work was sent to Dualplover in Australia for the final stage of making the actual product. We were in the very capable hands of Swerve, who helped soothe the anxiety around the possible design slips that could happen as we were including two booklets into the final complete package. Additional support and help with the OZ release is from Tenzenmen, a specialist in d.i.y releases from Australia, Asia, and now us.

The evolution of the art work

Running alongside the audio process, the task of conceptualising, compiling artwork, and designing the artwork and packaging was explored. In an organic fashion, similar to the way many things evolve in sterile, the final design took many months, multiple edits, and a massive effort to execute what ultimately because a stunning and beautiful package.

After some initial abandoned design ideas, the concept to approach individual artists to illustrate the  songs was almost accidentally stumbled upon. We looked through our contacts, aware of the vast array of talented friends, and matched songs with artists whom we thought could respond sympathetically to the intent and meaning of the words. And we were astounded and humbly impressed at how much they stood up to the mark, the quality of the art work, and the enthusiasm we received from each artist was incredible.

Building an exhibition.

While the art was coming in, the idea sprung into life that this part of the album deserves more that to be rendered into cd booklet size and never seen in its true form. The idea for the exhibition was born.  A close friend, James Kirk, was approached to frame the work over a number of months, not all of it easy, but the quality of displayed art work was astounding,  James also facilitated the contact with a photography who would take the highest quality photos for our reproduction in the books.

We’d like to say thank you

The craftsmanship executed from musicians, the sound engineers, artist, and the framing easily lived up to, and surpassed our Everest like expectations. the creating of this album was one stunning experience after another, not always easy, but ultimately extraordinarily rewarding.

We are incredibly grateful to all the amazing people who have participated in this project.

We thank you all individually:

  • Aaron Lloydd
  • Andrew Ross
  • Campbell Kneale
  • Dean Hapeta aka Te Kupu
  • Deborah Barton
  • Garage Collective
  • Kate Whitley
  • Kerry-Ann Lee
  • James Kirk
  • James Robinson
  • Jeff Henderson
  • Maria McMillian
  • Mike Gibson
  • Nell Thomas
  • Roger Morris
  • Stefan Neville
  • Tao Wells

Ongoing Developments:

The Launch:

The album was launched at the Wellington Gallery, The Russian Frost Farmers on March 25 2011

Touring:

We toured the album extensive within Aotearoa, we also took Transit to Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and returned to Java Indonesia. While in the township of Blitar, south east Java, a music video was made for the song Stella. The story of a young women from Blitar having a baby, moving to Singapore to get work as a transient migrant worker, while leaving baby back at home. A reflection on the globalised process of cheap labour for wealthy countries, everybody through travels with a very real human story.

The Exhibitions:

After the launch we presented to firstly the Hamilton, and then latterly  the Dunedin Fringe Festivals. The art work was couriered and installed with help from local to write the text around the art works. We then arrived to deliver a seminar discussing the process of developing this project, the content of the songs, and to play a few tunes.

Our show won two awards in Dunedin, and one award at the Hamilton Fringe. Below is a clip made by a Hamiltonian (thanks) from the Saturday afternoon discussion.

ICOT Presentation

ICOT13 – The International Conference on Thinking

In January 2013, the International Conference on Thinking was held in Wellington. We submitted an abstract, which was accepted, to present our thinking around the processes involved in this Transit project.It was a 75 minute break-out session that was well received.

The Video

A video for the song Transit, made by Wellington photographer and film maker John Lake. This clip includes a crowd fund choir from across the world. Click this link for more information


Pop Sickle

Stefan Neville - Pop Sickle, 2010

Stefan Neville - Pop Sickle, 2010

Hidden to the world, just below the Desert road
At war, amongst the tussock, in the cold
Partners? Only partly to these confidential men
‘Til you will not do what you’ve been told
Talk floats free, swimming in the southern sky
Via code, culling chatter, and assess
Fragments of a sound, find exact frequencies
Then deliver all the data at behest

Block Buchanan, there’s no home in this port
Civil stand, no place to anchor, challenge made
‘Know you place’, states the radio-silent reprimand
If compliant, could the Rainbow have been saved?
Penance built on action, construct a second base
Bigger ears, expanded reference, tighter nets
Modern, motivated, collude on rules of trade
Deny complicit when the human targets bled

Hoist on truck      Garden tool
Firm belief            Wild luck
April night            Minus fog
Just as well           Ditch the truck
By the fence          Wires cut
Father’s snip         Has no spark
Bypass guard        To the dome
Go on foot            In the dark
Stand at base       Reason clear
Hesitate?              Do the task
Hide the blade     To the hilt
Slow exhale         Faceless mask
Watch deflate       Flaccid tent
Inflate hope         In bold contrast

No crown of satellites, no electric fence
No silence or denial, or fear of jurisprudence
With personal around the clock, all resource available
Could not stop the honest work of these three men
And a single sickle

For Adrian Leason, Peter Murnane and Sam Land:
Who undressed the Waihopi spy base in 2008 to reveal and remind NZ of its’ complicit involvement in Western acts of aggression.
For all others who resist the war.