Signs of arousal

Strangely Arousing to play at the Dome.

Strangely Arousing to play at the Dome.

GET AROUSED: The eclectic, brass-driven, multi-instrumentalism of Strangely Arousing skips fearlessly through various genres to make a sound all of their own. The five-piece has played at festivals from Raggamuffin to Rhythm and Vines and now they are to perform at the Dome. Picture supplied

The brass-driven track Rebound, from their self-titled album, has a funereal beat you could skip your way to the infirmary to except you’d never get there. You’d be exhausted and OK with that. An air of the New Orleans carnival, of the whiff of the circus we hear in dusty troubadour Delaney Davidson, and even some zoo-like trumpeting feature in the song.

Intro, the first track on their most recent album, Strangely Arousing sets up the reggae theme but breaks into a funk-beat for I Don’t Give A. With its trumpeting, percussive intro Caught My Eye swings into full raunch.

Stone Cold builds in some bad rap attitude, Groove Shooter gets us all funked up again. Gold lives up to its name with some burnished Steely Dan-ish chords while Summer Season’s acoustic guitar opening and melancholic nostalgia lulls the listener into a comfy, folky state of mind. Then it bursts out of itself with a metal temperament but politer and better trained.

The energy, ecstasy and occasional outrageousness in fearless licks is not without attitude. Wharekura suggests this might be due to teenage angst.

“The songs were written over a period of years. Some songs such as Summer Season were written in the studio during recording. “I worked on the track while Oliver recorded the drum track. When he was having a break I jumped in and recorded the intro to Summer Season on acoustic guitar.

“Oliver came back and heard the song so we jammed it then used it on the album. It came together in 20 minutes. It was super-organic.”

A lot of the band’s carnivalesque sound comes from singer/guitarist Lukas Wharekura and drummer Oliver Prendergast’s [check] jazz study at Massey University in Auckland, says Lukas.

“We were exposed to the roots and history of jazz. A lot of the sound comes from New Orleans.”

The track Rebound features both a risibly sinister complexion, and ethereal riffs by “crazy clarinet” player Andrew Hall.

“He was originally a saxophone player for dDub, a band we really loved,” says Wharekura.

“That was a super-humbling experience for us, to have him come in. He’s a quiet, softly-spoken dude but he came in and shredded the whole thing.

“The basic idea for the song was to have a raw element of improvisation”, says Wharekura.

In a live show the song can run to eight to 10 minutes.

“We tend to leave it to near the end of the set. We like to leave everything we have on stage so it usually gets pretty rowdy.”

Winding up a gig in Whangarei gig, dubs-meister and trombone player Liam Rolfe pulled off a backflip at the end of the song at the same time Wharekura fell down.

“His feet landed about an inch from my face,” says Wharekura.

“It’s pretty funny when you see the video. The expression on Liam’s face is like ‘dude I almost killed you’.”

While brass and New Orleans jazz is a baseline in the Strangely Arousing sound, the band’s music is infused with the Pacific reggae. The band’s most popular tracks tend to be reggae-influenced, says Wharekura.

“So much New Zealand music is experimental. New Zealanders draw from so many influences we have a rich history rock, pop and reggae - all that creeps into New Zealand music.”

After their first year of study at Massey Wharekura and Prendergast [check] considered their future and decided to “give this band thing a shot”.

“We quit our studies and moved to Raglan and lived in a bach. We became hermits and just wrote.”

The band’s mission now is to bring the same big sound heard on Strangely Arousing to Gisborne.

“The album is dense in terms of production, says Wharekura.

“All of us are multi-instrumentalists. We strive to recreate that multi-layered sound in live performance.

The brass-driven track Rebound, from their self-titled album, has a funereal beat you could skip your way to the infirmary to except you’d never get there. You’d be exhausted and OK with that. An air of the New Orleans carnival, of the whiff of the circus we hear in dusty troubadour Delaney Davidson, and even some zoo-like trumpeting feature in the song.

Intro, the first track on their most recent album, Strangely Arousing sets up the reggae theme but breaks into a funk-beat for I Don’t Give A. With its trumpeting, percussive intro Caught My Eye swings into full raunch.

Stone Cold builds in some bad rap attitude, Groove Shooter gets us all funked up again. Gold lives up to its name with some burnished Steely Dan-ish chords while Summer Season’s acoustic guitar opening and melancholic nostalgia lulls the listener into a comfy, folky state of mind. Then it bursts out of itself with a metal temperament but politer and better trained.

The energy, ecstasy and occasional outrageousness in fearless licks is not without attitude. Wharekura suggests this might be due to teenage angst.

“The songs were written over a period of years. Some songs such as Summer Season were written in the studio during recording. “I worked on the track while Oliver recorded the drum track. When he was having a break I jumped in and recorded the intro to Summer Season on acoustic guitar.

“Oliver came back and heard the song so we jammed it then used it on the album. It came together in 20 minutes. It was super-organic.”

A lot of the band’s carnivalesque sound comes from singer/guitarist Lukas Wharekura and drummer Oliver Prendergast’s [check] jazz study at Massey University in Auckland, says Lukas.

“We were exposed to the roots and history of jazz. A lot of the sound comes from New Orleans.”

The track Rebound features both a risibly sinister complexion, and ethereal riffs by “crazy clarinet” player Andrew Hall.

“He was originally a saxophone player for dDub, a band we really loved,” says Wharekura.

“That was a super-humbling experience for us, to have him come in. He’s a quiet, softly-spoken dude but he came in and shredded the whole thing.

“The basic idea for the song was to have a raw element of improvisation”, says Wharekura.

In a live show the song can run to eight to 10 minutes.

“We tend to leave it to near the end of the set. We like to leave everything we have on stage so it usually gets pretty rowdy.”

Winding up a gig in Whangarei gig, dubs-meister and trombone player Liam Rolfe pulled off a backflip at the end of the song at the same time Wharekura fell down.

“His feet landed about an inch from my face,” says Wharekura.

“It’s pretty funny when you see the video. The expression on Liam’s face is like ‘dude I almost killed you’.”

While brass and New Orleans jazz is a baseline in the Strangely Arousing sound, the band’s music is infused with the Pacific reggae. The band’s most popular tracks tend to be reggae-influenced, says Wharekura.

“So much New Zealand music is experimental. New Zealanders draw from so many influences we have a rich history rock, pop and reggae - all that creeps into New Zealand music.”

After their first year of study at Massey Wharekura and Prendergast [check] considered their future and decided to “give this band thing a shot”.

“We quit our studies and moved to Raglan and lived in a bach. We became hermits and just wrote.”

The band’s mission now is to bring the same big sound heard on Strangely Arousing to Gisborne.

“The album is dense in terms of production, says Wharekura.

“All of us are multi-instrumentalists. We strive to recreate that multi-layered sound in live performance.

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Alex Schofield - 4 months ago
Love these guys. Just the best!

Great article!

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