New Zealand Music Month: Jakob, Into Orbit, and Spook the Horses
It’s New Zealand Music Month this May. New Zealand’s annual celebration of homegrown music. Generally, that involves a lot of mainstream media highlighting a lot of mainstream acts. So I’m here to try and redress the balance a bit. I’ll be posting a link to some rowdy New Zealand music for you to check out every day over the next month. Some bands will no doubt be familiar; others I hope will be fresh to your ears.
Many of the bands mentioned in this New Zealand Music Month series have their roots proudly on display. Some are mining a core set of easily identifiable influences, and still creating refreshingly powerful works of art. But the three bands featured in this post, while all creatively fascinating in their own right, are more ambiguous in their tone and temper.
All of the following bands fall into that somewhat nebulous and indefinite sphere of music that’s commonly affixed with the post- signifier. Each is very different to the others, but all stand out as idiosyncratic and inventive bands in New Zealand’s alternative-rock pool.
First up, long-running post-rock trio Jakob. Jakob won New Zealand’s prestigious Taite Music Prize in 2015, and their latest album, 2014’s Sines, was beautiful, adventurous, flawless––and eight years in the making. Jakob had to overcome significant hurdles to write, record, and release Sines, but the album was so worth the wait. It added yet another masterpiece of eloquent guitar rock to the band’s already impressive arsenal. And Sines was a defiant and endlessly creative riposte to life’s interminable trials.
Into Orbit create moving instrumental narratives, injecting their songs with unorthodox time signatures and counterpointing sweet-tempered and stentorian passages. The result is heavily textural suites that ignore genre guidelines. And Into Orbit’s 2014 debut album, Caverns, sees post- and progressive-rock, post-metal, drone, and ambient elements all featuring.
Spook the Horses
Spook the Horses showed courage in making significant aesthetic and sonic changes on their second album, Rainmaker. The band expanded and explored the parameters of their previous post-metal/hardcore sound, and they showed a huge leap in creative prowess along the way. Ruminative, mesmerising, picturesque; Spook the Horses are a far more captivating band now than ever before.