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(Post by Nicholas Joseph)

Greetings from sunny Arraiolos, Portugal. I’m here on an artist residency with Cortex Frontal.

Arraiolos is not so hard to imagine if you’ve ever seen a picture of a Portuguese village. Picture blue and white houses, orange brick roofs, everything tiled, sloping cobbled lanes and lush green countryside. In a word, it’s quaint. There’s a castle and a garden filled with orange trees. The village clock tower chimes as I write. The beauty is almost comical.

 

A week before taking the 24-hour trip out here I recorded an album with my friend Arden Tanner-Dempsey and new homie (and producer extraordinaire) De Stevens. I think of it as a reluctant rock record. There’s a lot of electric guitar. We made it in four days at Bagnall Hill, a small studio just a short drive from my home in beautiful Te Pahu. De and I really burnt the candle to finish the record. I hope to write more on that process later.

All that’s to say, I’d thought I would be craving a break from the guitar. I had planned to come to Portugal to make an album of piano music but alas… it’s the acoustic Fender knock-off with ancient strings that’s been speaking to me since I arrived here. And who am I to refuse it!

It’s a lesson I seem to be relearning a lot lately. How to navigate the delicate chaos of making music. Whenever I try to enforce conditions or outcomes on a creative project, the world seems to laugh back. At the beginning of my second week, resisting writer's block, I began playing some old ideas on the piano. They went nowhere. The arrogance of trying to bring my old ghosts into an 18th century building pregnant with its own secret history!

Beyond the confines of my little dungeon, I’m grateful for the company of my fellow artists in residence. Five people from different parts of the world pursuing their projects in different corners of this labyrinthine house. We bonded quickly. It’s reassuring learning how they grapple with their creative processes. How their projects also reveal themselves in their own sweet time. How we all scurry to the safety of our studios to recharge after a night of socialising. How encouraging to be around similar brains. There’s so much to learn through conversation and so much that just seeps in as we go about our daily lives.


A few thoughts on imposter syndrome and eating the tall poppy.

When I applied for the residency it was in the mind of someone pretending to be an artist. I could only make it through the process of pitching my project by making light of it. Just the thought of taking myself seriously as an artist – even as a musician – bristled me. Cringe!

In Europe though (and maybe in the US also?) it feels more valid to think and live like an ‘artiste’. Maybe it's the history. It feels like it comes with an acceptance, even a respect that gives it more weight and somehow makes it feel lighter. As a New Zealander (says so on my passport anyway) I wonder how much I’ve internalized our invisible tall poppy syndrome. Hard to know how it happens but it just does.

Alas! Thomas asked me to write a few words – instead he got a thesis.

In the jet lagged fever dream of my first week in Arraiolos, a song came to me. It’s called ‘Atonement’ and it felt like it was just waiting patiently to be conjured up from the wallpapered walls of my studio.

I’m hesitant to say more but the music will speak for itself in due course.

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Seth Frightening bares all with the new album, Fall Asleep in the Onion Weeds, his fourth full-length release and the first in 9 years!

“Sorry it took so long”, he says. “I moved away when everything started to fall apart. But I got myself together and I'm doing pretty well I guess.. Time does fly when you're moving and ageing but I got this done in various bedrooms and living rooms in NZ, Germany and the UK. Working all the time to pay the landlordz always chews away at life/time aswell. But here you go…“

This music is not for the faint hearted. Confronting themes around suffering, society and sex are delivered in intricate, twisted and beautiful packages. For those willing to delve deep this is a quintessential release from one of the most unique and powerful songwriters to have emerged from the Aotearoa underground.

TRACKLIST:
1. Setting Sun
2. Seems, Topless
3. Eyelash and Eels
4. Spitting on Crystals
5. There's Honey on the Windowsill
6. Hetero-Blud (Doom from the Womb)
7. So Silky Soft on Floors of Bedrooms
8. Peel at the Programme
9. Necro Nights, Village Lights

CREDITS:
Written, Performed, Recorded & Mixed by Seth Frightening
Additional vocals on 'There's Honey on the Windowsill' by I.E Crazy.
'Necro Nights, Village Lights' mixed by Thomas Arbor.
Mastered by Thomas Arbor

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M Faisandier has released a new album – self-described “journeying music, best enjoyed in headphones in the dark.”

TRACKLIST:
1. Absence Work On Me
2. Never Haunted
3. Never Missed
4. Internal Sensing
5. Endless Legacy
6. Innocent As Will Awaits

CREDITS:
Composition, Guitars, Time Stretches, Vocals, Mixing – M Faisandier
Mastering – Thomas Arbor
Photography – Ari Sharp

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(Post by Thomas Arbor)

This one always felt to me like a 'last track on the album' kind of vibe, hence the name, though who knows where it'll end up.

The photo is another from nearby the Huka-Aratiatia Dam, Taupō – on the same misty morning this one was taken. 

It also feels worth noting that this rākaunui falls on Anzac Day – a day of commemoration marking the invasion at Gallipoli by Australian and New Zealand armies in World War 1.

I saw this today (thanks Danielle) which sums up the event and the senseless, horrific nature of war in general:

'George “Sonny” Skerrett, Gallipoli survivor, interviewed for the occasion of his 100th birthday in 1992:

“Ashore, it was frightful. Terrible…. The Turks applied for the armistice to bury the dead. I went out with four doctors, couldn’t do much for them, just bandage them. There were 4000 Turks buried that day, I never saw anything like it in all my life. I cried all day, all afternoon, I couldn’t stop. Six of my mates, we did everything together, swum and played tennis, they were all out there dead. I looked for them but never found them. Some of the bodies had been lying out there for over a month, and they just fell to pieces in the 100 degree heat…. We were shelled continuously, shrapnel shells falling on both sides. Why I never got hit I’ll never know. I still remember the beach. There were a couple of thousand men lying there in all shapes and sizes and forms, all wounded and sick…. We could only treat a certain number of them. The badly wounded, they’d say, you go and find someone else to look after, and they just lay there and died…. I still think about Gallipoli quite a bit. It accomplished nothing…. War’s terrible, everybody loses. The only ones who win are the people who make the bombs and shells and the bullets.”'

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(Post by Thomas Arbor)

Autumn is arriving in Aotearoa and it feels like time to hibernate! As such my soft-release for this full moon has a bit of a cozy vibe imo: gentle strings, pulsing flute, flowing clarinet and enveloping synth textures.

FYI the photo is of a wall alongside the river in Luxembourg in October 2023 (Northern Hemisphere Autumn).

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(Post by Thomas Arbor)

Kia ora and welcome to 2024! I hope you’re finding some calm in the chaos.

I’m keeping up my full moon ‘soft releases’ (streaming only here for now) with this short one – currently called Earth (a companion piece to Unearth). 

It’s another piano & strings piece, this time with clarinet, flute and oboe. Thanks for listening!

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Btw the photo is from an early morning near the Huka-Aratiatia Dam, Taupō – with altered hues possibly influenced by the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci (coz I’m currently reading his biography!).

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Avant-folk artist Seth Frightening is back with his first single in over six years, titled Hetero-Blud (Doom from the Womb). Listen here, read on & support the artist if you can!

“Wrote it in bed and recorded it underneath the bed in Aotearoa.. Eventually glued it together again with a piano by a mattress on the floor in Berlin.. Finally finished it watching the pigs trot by my house on horses in South London.”

Stay tuned for more in 2024!

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