various artists – the green room 001: eco_nation

i may have initially bought this as a hippy purchase (yes, that seems like an oxymoron). i mean, the name; my beliefs. and it lives up to that. it’s linked to a new zealand radio show that was broadcast at the time; and the green party. but none of the liner notes really gives away the music itself. unfold; remove; play.

it is a feature just for new zealand artists, which in a tangential way relates it to some other radio compilations in the collection that i’ll get to. there’s a great diversity of styles, though quite a lot of funk/hip hop/electronic elements with a fair share of reggae. there are a couple of quite well known bands like salmonella dub and fat freddy’s drop included.

it leaves you in no doubt that there was, at least ten years ago, a remarkable music scene in new zealand that had its own strong identity and was happy to work in a socially active way, not disengaged from everything else going on in their place and further afield. that would perhaps be one of the things lacking across the rest of the collection – a sense i seem to get from most musos that they have no interest in making direct political or social statements. even with a band like godspeed you black emperor, there’s a lot of interpretation required to arrive at the meaning.

regardless of any statements being made by the bands on this release, in some cases just by the mere fact that they’re included, the songs are great to groove to; the first time i’ve thought of that word so far to relate to music i have. there are some real standout moments; such as the excellent electronic dub track by jo dukie & fitchie called midnight marauders. the whole album starts with the very catchy yet understated song beautiful people by trinityroots who shared members with fat freddy’s drop. a lot of the great music here is lyricless that blends a lot of sounds, melodic and otherwise. perfect example is the 50hz song versionary dub.

it also does a good job of reminding me of a scene in a tv show from new zealand that i love, which i feel was never received the way it should have been, called insiders guide to… (there was a happiness series and a love series). in happiness, the character james lives in a dodgy house somewhere in wellington with his mate barry and ends up having an experience as the incarnation of a spiritual leader (in the least dogmatic way one can imagine). well, it was ultimately a small moment, when you see a few times the salmonella dub poster in james’ room. there’s subtlety to the reference reflected in the subtlety of the music.

gotta be thinkin right now that new zealand is a possible emigration destination… especially if the music is still this good.

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