Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Whakataurangi Ake

Here’s something brand new from Disjecta Membra, who I’ve blogged about previously (albeit briefly). This is a quite lovely collaboration with another local artist, Rob Thorne, and it feels like something of a major departure from what we’d usually expect from Disjecta Membra. But clearly it’s very personal, and the real beauty here lies in its intimacy.

The thinking behind the release – a free download, no less – is explained further in the following press release:

Wellington’s Disjecta Membra together with acclaimed taonga pūoro artist Rob Thorne have today released a new rendition of ‘Whakataurangi Ake’; an old waiata from Rereahu-Maniapoto, composed by the noted kaumatua, Charles Tauhou ‘Pumi’ Taituha (1930-1993).
‘Whakataurangi Ake’ has been recorded and released with thanks and acknowledgement to Jaqui Taituha, mokopuna of Pumi Taituha. In recognition of Pumi’s whānau, hapū and iwi, an interview with Disjecta Membra on Maniapoto FM’s ‘Pātere’ programme was scheduled to coincide with today’s release. Sadly, due to recent bereavements within the Maniapoto FM whānau, however, the interview has now been postponed to next Wednesday, 23 December.
Normally, Disjecta Membra might be better known for dark, atmospheric, ‘gothic’ music. But in more than twenty years’ evolution the band have ventured beyond the confines of the genre, often drawing from a rich New Zealand cultural heritage in the process of carving out their own unique and distinctive identity.
Similarly, before entering the world of taonga pūoro (traditional Māori instruments), Rob Thorne (Ngāti Tumutumu)’s musical roots lay in the experimental noise and swampy alternative rock scene of late eighties/early nineties Palmerston North. That background in ‘fringe’ music, coupled with Thorne’s emphasis on bringing ancient and modern together, is what led the group to seek out his collaboration on the track.
Disjecta Membra’s treatment of ‘Whakataurangi Ake’ was initially devised as a form of welcome to international performers whom they were playing live support to, inspired by the song’s frequent use on marae throughout the country as a waiata tautoko at pōwhiri.
For bandmates Michel Rowland (Ngāi Tai/Ngāti Tai) and Matthew Tāmati Scott (Waitaha), the piece took on further layers of meaning due to Michel’s grandfather and Matthew’s father having both passed away ahead of their first live performance of the waiata in 2014.
‘Whakataurangi Ake’ is available for free download from, accompanied by a pdf booklet containing original artwork and graphic design by bassist and in-house designer, Isobel ‘Izzy’ Te Aho-White (Ngāi Tahu). The track was also recorded and produced by Izzy’s brother-in-law, Bryan Tabuteau for Molière Recording.
The band’s previous release, ‘Madeleine! Madelaine! (Molière Mix)’, appeared on the popular international Bat Conservation Trust fundraiser compilation, ‘For The Bats Volume III’ in October. ‘Madeleine! Madelaine!’ has received extensive airplay from radio stations and specialist broadcasters in the UK, Europe, North and South America, Australia and even in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Ironically, the band still struggle to achieve regular airplay at home.
Rob Thorne’s album, Whāia Te Māramatanga, was released on New Zealand instrumental music label Rattle in 2014, to widespread critical praise. He has since toured New Zealand exhaustively, more than once, and in January/February 2016 will be in Berlin, performing and recording a commissioned piece for the CMT Festival for Adventurous Music & Art.
Thorne and Disjecta Membra meanwhile look forward to several collaborative projects together in the near future.

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