The Taite Prize was presented last night to veteran Auckland songwriter-producer Sean James Donnelly - known as SJD - for his sixth album Elastic Wasteland.
The award, named after music journalist Dylan Taite, includes $10,000 cash from PPNZ Music Licensing and Independent Music New Zealand.
It's given annually to a local album that stands out for its creativity, originality, and musicianship, the winner chosen by a panel of industry judges.
West Auckland-based Donnelly - also a member of the Pajama Club, with Neil and Sharon Finn, and the Bellbirds, with Don McGlashan, Victoria Kelly and Sandy Mill - recorded the album at home in Titirangi, using only electronic instrumentation.
The resulting 10 tracks range from ambient and melancholic to sci-fi house, all held together by reflective, insightful lyrics.
As TimeOut's Scott Kara said when reviewing the album last year: "Elastic Wasteland is bold and unique, yet effortless, charming and masterfully crafted".
The award has previously been won by Lawrence Arabia, Ladi6, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
The other six finalists this year were Opossom for whirling, bluesy, fuzz-pop set Electric Hawaii; @Peace for their self-titled philosophical, electro-soul debut; Aaradhna for Motown-inspired Treble & Reverb; Home Brew for their self-titled wryly-humoured, jazz-infused, hip-hop double album; Collapsing Cities for post-punk dance-rock record Strangers Again; and Lawrence Arabia for his lush, romantic, witty pop outing The Sparrow.
The inaugural Independent Music NZ Classic Record Award was also handed out to Kiwi noise-rock pioneers the Gordons, for their self-titled 1981 album.