Monday, May 14, 2018

Something Different: Estella Dawn

Writing for NZ Musician is essentially a labour of love, and while it’s given me the opportunity to chat with local heroes like Paddy Free (Pitch Black), Darren Watson, and the guys from Head Like A Hole, to name just a couple, few interviews come with the personal connection this one offered ... that rare experience of chatting with someone you first met when they were a baby. Or when you can claim to have met their grandparents, even!

Estella Dawn is a young Kiwi singer-songwriter of considerable promise, currently based in Colorado, and although I don’t necessarily fit the exact demographic Estella’s wholesome pop style targets, I really enjoyed having the opportunity to profile her for NZ Musician – by way of an “ex-pat files” piece on the magazine’s website (link below). You can sample her sole release to date via Spotify, but look out too for a new set of tunes in the not too distant future ...

Sunday, May 6, 2018

More Dub Vibes From The Echo Chamber

We love us some dub vibes up here in the everythingsgonegreen tree hut, so just a quick post to highlight the release of yet another volume (or two) in the Dan Dada Records ‘Echo Chamber Around The World’ series of excellent compilation albums. We're up to volumes 9 and 10, featuring Aotearoa’s own Dub Terminator, plus 34 more top notch dub and roots reggae tracks from a wide range of artists. My own favourites here are tracks from Burning Babylon, Dubmatix (ft Earl Zero), Ras Bruno, Mystical Warrior, DU3normal, Mr Zebra & Rebel I, Dubalizer, Guidub, and Funk Dub Division, but there’s no real duds on this expansive globetrotting release. Released under an international Creative Commons license, free downloads don’t get much better than this … here’s the label’s blurb and a Bandcamp link:

For the last 22 years Dr. StrangeDub (Michael Rose) and DJ Baby Swiss (Elmar Romain) have been bringing dubwise sounds to the massive on their radio program the Echo Chamber. With the heaviest dubs, the most conscious roots, and the funkiest club beats from around the world, all chilled and expertly mixed into a subsonic stew, the Echo Chamber is always the hippest place to be every Wednesday morning (from 2:00 to 6:00 a.m US CST). The program airs on KFAI-FM in Minneapolis, MN (U.S.A.) at the 90.3 and 106.7 frequencies, and streams online at Find the playlists and two most recent programs in the KFAI-FM archive at: Also check the two online archives of past shows: Mixcloud --

A typical show features a heavy dose of the latest roots & dub reggae and a potent shot of old school roots and dub. But dub just lays the foundation and holds the trip together: the DJ dub doctors cover the entire reggae rainbow, and they pull in the heaviest chilled beats from clubs around the world. For most shows, Dr. StrangeDub is at the controls for the first 2 hours, while DJ Baby Swiss "runs tings" in the second half of the show. For this compilation, the Echo Chamber has once again teamed up with Bandulu Dub and Dan Dada Records to present a worldwide trip into Dub. This collection represents a broad variety of musical styles... and spans the globe in doing so. This is very much in keeping with the eclectic "anything goes" format of the Echo Chamber radio program – where “dub” is as much an attitude or approach to music as it is a genre of music. On behalf of Dan Dada Records, Dr. StrangeDub (Michael Rose) and DJ Baby Swiss (Elmar Romain) extend our undying gratitude to all the artists and record labels that agreed to be a part of this worldwide dubwise project! Spreading the positive dubwise vibe to the world... 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Album Review: Disjecta Membra - Achromaticia (1997/2017 20th Anniversary Edition)

When Michel Rowland of Disjecta Membra revealed late last year that the band’s debut album from 1997, Achromaticia, was about to benefit from a twentieth anniversary makeover, I knew immediately that I needed to pick up a copy. Despite already having a copy of the album in digital form, I pre-ordered the expanded triple CD set online and waited some months for its arrival. There were delays, mostly due to the fact that Rowland is a staunch perfectionist who wanted to get every last detail of the release exactly right, but late last month the CD(s) finally turned up in my letterbox. It’s fair to say, it was well worth the wait.

The release is made up of the original album on one CD, plus two further CDs containing demos, live tracks, covers, and excerpts from a Contact FM radio interview recorded while the band was still in its infancy. My purchase included a fourth element in the form of an additional digital download, which features more odds and ends of that ilk. The whole thing presents a fascinating, comprehensive, grassroots-level overview of one of Aotearoa’s most unique bands.

In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to describe the Hamilton-born, now Wellington-based Disjecta Membra as this country’s leading darkwave or goth rock band. Rowland – as founder (in late 1993), vocalist, and principal songwriter – has always been at the heart of all things Disjecta Membra, with various band members coming and going over the course of the past two decades. The album’s inlay and liner notes acknowledge the other key individuals involved, and to some extent those notes work as a potted history of the band. That booklet, and the packaging in general (photos, artwork, notes), is a lovely bonus.

The music on the core album itself is typically dark and cinematic. It opens with the dramatic ‘Cathedral’ and builds in intensity from there. ‘Cathedral’ finds Rowland channelling the not-quite-yet ghost of Andrew Eldritch and that track pops up again later in the form of a Deus ex Machina remix. For me, it is the heavier tunes within the 14-track set, such as ‘Rats’, ‘Cauldron of Cerridwen’, and ‘The Sleep’ which hold the most appeal. But there’s a good mix of stuff – from shorter tracks like the dreamy spoken word wonderment of ‘Malcolm’, and the one-minute interlude of ‘Androgyne Waltz’, to the theatrical-almost-epic qualities of the 11-minute-plus closer ‘Danse Macabre’, which never quite lets you breathe out. In short, the album covers a great deal of ground.

Probably not quite as much ground as the three bonus sets (two discs, one download) however, which offer huge insight into how the band evolved. It has to be said, some of the earliest demos, the basement and garage recordings, are a hard listen, simply because of the poor audio quality. As you’d expect from material of that description, and vintage. Similarly, a lot of the live stuff sounds a little worse for wear. Yet, for all of those flaws, there’s real energy there, and a genuine sense of the post-punk spirit which clearly drove the band in its fledgling form. Most captivating, for me, are the various covers on offer, with work by some of my own favourites – The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, and Siouxsie – all getting at least one box ticked.

Overall, the triple CD/four-set release is a wonderful snapshot of early Disjecta Membra. It’s one of those time-and-place things. If you weren’t there – and I wasn’t – it doesn’t really matter, you can catch up now with this massive collection of archive material. Probably more Disjecta Membra than you’ll ever really need, but well worth the indulgence all the same. Terrific stuff.

Read more about Disjecta Membra here, here, and here.

Disjecta Membra's website

And you can read more about Michel Rowland’s “other” project here.

Here's Cathedral ...