Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Land of the Long White Sound: day four

As I said in my last post - too many white boys with guitars n this series so far. Time to move over, guys...

Acoustic guitar, a choral synth backing, accompanied by a minimum of bass, striking percussion (rakau sticks?) and rounded out by an eerie koauau, Emma Paki's System Virtue is utterly unique, real shiver down the spine stuff, belying the actual optimism of the song. Paki explained it once simply as an inversion of the common complaint that "the system sucks", giving it a virtue that can only be seen through a positive attitude. Recorded by Jaz Coleman for free, it's matched by a video that could be Ans Westera portraits given movement; stark, monochrome images of rural tangata whenua. Real faces, families, homes, animals, bikes, moko, and the tino rangatiratanga flag. If there was one song which deftly caught and challenged with a  moment of local identity poised between the 'Ruthenasia' reforms of the National government's 1991 Budget and the cultural phenomenon of Lee Tamihori's Once Were Warriors, then this was it.There's even a shout out to the national anthem.

I was lucky enough to catch an impromptu performance by Paki in Marion Sqaure during the Wellington Fringe Festival, ooh - circa 2002? Brilliant stuff - unaccompanied with only a mic'd up acoustic and an open sky, she was the real deal.

So, whatever next? Ditch the guitars, maybe?

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