The wonderful people at SOUNZ (Centre for New Zealand Music) have been filming performances of New Zealand works and making them available on their website.
As of last week, Field Punishment Number One is finished and delivered – and as of yesterday, the final episode of The Almighty Johnsons (Season 3) is also complete. At times like these, I often find myself floating in something of an abyss… exhausted and awash with residual adrenaline from the rush towards the end. And, it’s fair to say that I’m looking forward to lingering on the sofa with my beautiful children and eventually clearing the pile of unopened mail off my desk.
However, I’m also very excited to say that Jonathan King (Black Sheep, Under The Mountain) has been making his third film – written by Chad Taylor – a futuristic, psychological drama called Realiti, starring Nathan Meister and Michelle Langstone (whose performance in The Almighty Johnsons this season has been really wonderful) among others. So I’m about to leap into another entirely different musical world.
I’m very excited about this… I love working with Jonathan and this film will be a slightly different approach, given that it’s super-low-budget (in that excellent, ultimate-creative-freedom-to-play-around-and-experiment kind of way). Science fiction and futuristic stories have always been the vehicles of my favourite soundtracks (the original Planet of the Apes, Alien, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Forbidden Planet) and while Realiti is not set in space and doesn’t involve aliens or robots or apes or Charlton Heston or any other such things… it’s a gritty, suspenseful mind-twister and I relish the musical opportunities it will present.
I love cars.
There’s something about that moment where form meets function through the eye of an inspired human being – and something magical, fast, noisy, sleek and breathlessly sexy comes into the world. And though I’m more of an American classic car fan…
(1963 Corvette Stingray – with a split rear window, of course… truly and absolutely the most beautiful car ever made!)
(1967 Mustang Fastback… sigh!)
…I’m prepared to stop for a moment and acknowledge a car company, much beloved of the Antipodes… Holden. And I do this, not for their cars, per se, but for their excellent taste in cellists.
May I present my dear husband, Mr Brown (ladies, you’ll see that his wedding ring is featured!) performing with Mahuia Bridgeman-Cooper (who created the quartet arrangement of this classic Hello Sailor song, Gutter Black).
In a furious day of recording, we gathered together an assortment of eight, fine Auckland string players to record music for Field Punishment No.1 – husband and friends among them.
Andre Upston (Radio New Zealand) – who engineered the session – and I have been working together for a very long time (any musical locals reading this will remember the wonderful – and sorely missed – Helen Young Studio on Cook Street, where Andre presided and where so many of us recorded albums and soundtracks and did broadcasts and spent countless sleepless hours getting pissed and scrambling to meet deadlines… those were the days…. sigh!). But it’s been a few years since Andre and I last did a soundtrack together… and of course, he got a gorgeous sound out of the players and the room (Native Audio... a lovely wooden space that has yielded many a happy noise over the years).
And, what’s the point of living and working in a small country if you can’t engage in a spot of healthy nepotism?… so, here’s my dear husband, Ashley Brown, recording some solo cello. I don’t hire him simply out of favoritism… or for his hotness (though it’s a perfectly good incentive)… or because it’s an excellent opportunity to boss him around. He’s actually quite good.
He’s not photographed here, but another brilliant contributor to the score has been Nigel Gavin, who provided gorgeous performances on the guitar – and most importantly, the Ukelele, (which has somehow managed to feature in the score for a film about the desperation of the First World War – and the morality / or lack thereof, of war in general).
Also crucial to the success of the recordings was Ryan Youens, who managed to get the notes out of my disordered sessions and make them legible for the musicians. How I ever lived without him, I simply cannot bear to remember.
We pre-mix tomorrow and deliver on Tuesday. I don’t foresee a great deal of sleep in the next 72 hours…
I stepped out of the very different worlds of the First World War and The Almighty Johnsons on Wednesday to leap into Roundhead, give the marvellous Aaron Tokona a mighty embrace, and record some piano for the song that AHoriBuzz is contributing to the Global Citizen Aotearoa launch. The launch is on August the 4th at the Auckland Town Hall. And I’ve posted AHoriBuzz’s latest video,’Sugar’, for your entertainment and delight.
“… it is the preface, by Wilfred Owen, to a volume of his poems which was to show, to England, and the intolerant world, the foolishness, unnaturalness, horror, inhumanity, and insupportability of war, and to expose, so that all could suffer and see, the heroic lies, the willingness of the old to sacrifice the young, indifference, grief, the soul of soldiers … he is a poet of all times, all places, and all wars. There is only one war: that of men against men.”
Wilfred Owen – the great English war poet and a namesake of my son, Fred – has been very much in my thoughts as I’ve been writing the music for Field Punishment No.1. Though he fought in Europe, was honoured with the Military Cross for gallantry and died in action (during the act of encouraging his men onwards as they went into battle) in November 1918, he was deeply conflicted about the nature of war and his participation in it. In a letter to his mother, he described himself as “a conscientious objector… with a very seared conscience.”
I suspect Archibald Baxter would not have been an immediate friend of Wilfred Owen’s. Owen took a dim view of Pacifists and, in many ways, sought to earn his right to object to the war using the exact opposite of Baxter’s means of protest – active participation. However, I like to imagine the things these two artists might have found in common, and the mutual respect that could have developed between them, had they met and spent time in each others company. Reading Baxter’s biography and noting his clear language, his quietly fierce conviction, and his utter lack of self-pity and self-indulgence, I think that there are parallels to Owen’s work, his own perspective on the war, and his deeply convicted nature.
The preface by Owen, to which Dylan Thomas was referring in the quote at the top of this post, is as follows:
“This book is not about heroes. English poetry is not yet fit to speak of them.
Nor is it about deeds, or lands, nor anything about glory, honour, might, majesty, dominion, or power, except War.
Above all I am not concerned with Poetry.
My subject is War, and the pity of War.
The Poetry is in the pity.
Yet these elegies are to this generation in no sense consolatory. They may be to the next. All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true Poets must be truthful.”
(The following websites have a lot of thoughtfully presented information about War Poetry and about the work of Wilfred Owen (and his contemporaries): The First World War Poetry Digital Archive, The Wilfred Owen Association, The War Poetry Website. All of the images and quotations in this post were found on these sites.)
We begin recording live instruments for Field Punishment No.1 on Tuesday and finish on Saturday. It will be a very quick turnaround after that and I’ll look forward to posting some of the finished music after the film has been broadcast.
And here is the super new video from the inimitable SJD. ‘Make Love Ask Questions Later’ from the album, Elastic Wasteland.