Music Reviews
The latest albums reviewed and rated

Album Review: Little Bushman, Te Oranga

By Graham Reid

Add a comment
Little Bushman are reflective and quasi-cosmic on third album Te Oranga. Photo / Supplied
Little Bushman are reflective and quasi-cosmic on third album Te Oranga. Photo / Supplied

Continuing their exploration of folk-influenced rock and the ethos, if not the actual sound, of 60s psychedelic rock, the quartet (and friends) come over reflective and quasi-cosmic on this third studio album as they attempt to find middle ground between roots music/Maoritanga, social comment and the hi-tech world of the 21st century.

That many of these are in opposition plays out in lyrics and music which also sound conflicted at times and searching for a centre.

Lyrically, some material aims high ("Their atomic chord had opened a gate into another time ... and in the maelstrom middle was made a Man" on Dream of the Astronaut Girl). But it can equally come off as clumsy and space-filling ("Sinner man, sinner man, cinnamon, cinema" on One Hand).

The juggle between traditional values/folk simplicity and the modern world often jars as the album aims for meaning. Gone ("I look around and what do I see, see a gigabyte of 10 delights dancing after me") goes the whole prog-rock route shifting from simple acoustic guitar over a heartbeat drum to crashing chords in the manner of King Crimson.

But that it and Dream of the Astronaut Girl - another Crimson-like piece with space-rock/Hawkwind lyrics - come in two parts suggests they were conceived as separate sections rather than a cohesive whole. And they sound that way, although interestingly the slow and somewhat ponderous instrumental Astronaut Girl Part II links to the similarly epic sweep on the highly disturbing, eight-minute Big Man ("a big big man put a gun to Grandma's head") with their everything-and-kitchen-sink closing third (think Kashmir on downers for Big Man). The most fully realised pieces come late: Backbone with its low, haunting bluesy quality from Joe Callwood's guitar and a vocal delivery by singer Warren Maxwell which recalls his other band, TrinityRoots, and his star turn on the recent Ihimaera album; and - despite its lyrical pretensions and confusions - the haunting sound and genuinely psychedelic astral flight of the eight minute-plus closer One Hand.

You sense Little Bushman are taking themselves very seriously - the great failing of most later 60s psychedelic bands - and this is at its best when it tries less hard to say something significant.

Rating: 3/5
Verdict: Folk and prog, Maoritanga and 21st century concerns on difficult third album

- TimeOut / elsewhere.co.nz

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 01 Mar 2017 06:01:36 Processing Time: 1523ms