Album/DVD Review: TrinityRoots Music Is Choice

By Graham Reid

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Despite their successes outside the band, TrinityRoots have not ruled out a reunion. Photo / Supplied
Despite their successes outside the band, TrinityRoots have not ruled out a reunion. Photo / Supplied

Rating: 5/5
Verdict: TrinityRoots are back, but not in a bad way

There was good news for Flight of the Conchords fans this week: Jemaine Clement confirmed, yet again, there wouldn't be another series.

Strange as that sounds, some things are so perfectly formed they are best left alone: Fawlty Towers and the English version of The Office... Great bands, too, deserve an enclosed lifespan.

The singles Free As a Bird and Real Love using the late John Lennon's home recordings simply tarnished the Beatles' reputation. And everywhere groups - often but a blip on the radar in their time - are reforming to trot out their hits, or hit.

Some bands last for a short but perfectly formed time. TrinityRoots were like that. Their music was an infusion of roots reggae, slow funk, trip-hop, expansive jazz, and Maoritanga suggestions of chants and waiata.


Given their backgrounds they could perhaps do nothing else.

Warren Maxwell (Tuhoi) was born in Auckland and grew up in Whangarei; Rio Hemopo from Taumarunui is "of Tuwharetoa, Mum's Maori, Dad's Niuean but got German in his mix, Mum's English and Scottish"; and Riki Gooch, "one of the three Maori people that lived in Dunedin" has "whanau from Mangere Bridge to Whangaroa and Te Kuiti as well."

When they independently arrived in Wellington to study jazz they gravitated together, and between 1998 and 2005 their performances and albums - True of 2002, Home, Land and Sea two years later - impressed themselves in the heart of Aotearoa. Their lyrics spoke of hope, love and the beauty of their homeland but also - without sentimentality - a yearning for the way this country could be.

Then they were gone.

Now TrinityRoots are back - but not in a bad, re-formed way. The two platinum-selling albums have been reissued with previously unreleased extra tracks, along with the Little Things EP.

Then there is the Music is Choice CD/DVD. The CD brings together eight live recordings strung like a concept album about Aotearoa, the band stretching songs to the 12 and 20-minute mark.

The DVD has an impressive 70-minute doco by Sarah Hunter capturing their growth and humour and that rare affection for each other, their music and their audiences. It also has videos of Little Things and Home Land and Sea, film director Chris Graham on the making of that stunning black'n'white clip of Little Things with Wi Kuki Kaa, the "True bro" promo clip, and footage from their farewell concert.

On every level - musical and personal - as all these confirm, theirs was a spiritual journey and addressed deep things within this country's consciousness.

When they split up I wrote an obituary for this paper. It ended, "There is nothing in the contract to say bands have to last forever, and better a band that opened a door for others to look through than one which blocked the view by standing there for too long."

TrinityRoots opened doors for themselves - Maxwell into Little Bushmen, Gooch creating the multi-media performance outfit Eru Dangerspiel, Hemopo into Breaks Co-op and solo work - but also in people's hearts.

They didn't block the view and - suggestions in the doco they aren't averse to a reunion, aside - this look back reminds you what a perfectly formed lifespan they had.

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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