The Wireless is proud to present the premiere of Dudley Benson’s ‘Muscles (Murderbike Remix)’.
Dunedin-based Dudley Benson recently announced details of his forthcoming record, Zealandia. Written over the past three years, it’s an album he describes as complimenting his past releases and acting as the final part of the trilogy that started with his debut The Awakening and the more recent Forest: Songs by Hirini Melbourne.
Zealandia is obviously a patriotic album title, and the record is made up of what he calls ‘identity pop songs’ that enforce the fascination he has about what makes ‘a real New Zealander’. For Dudley, it’s time to start again.
“I think it's time that Pakeha society - not just the crown - acknowledged that we really screwed up with colonisation, and that an honest account of our history becomes part of our mainstream education system,” he says.
“Until then I sometimes get the feeling we're stuck on the spinning beachball, and that maybe really belonging to this place might mean pressing reset. For me, the fact that it's been discovered that New Zealand isn't a part of the Australasian continent, but actually the 94% sunken continent of Zealandia, represents this golden opportunity for us to do just that.”
Dudley says that the album also has a strong emphasis on nature and in getting it together he decided to sub out some of the beats for ones that were sampled from rocks and minerals instead. The process involved enlisting the help of Hamish Campbell, a geologist from GNS Science in Wellington, and Al Fraser, a friend who makes and plays taonga pūoro. He nicknames the resulting sound “fossil pop”.
“We spent an afternoon at GNS' enormous store-room of geological artifacts, and I asked Hamish to bring out any rocks or minerals that he loved. Al would then play the rocks with a piece of quartz, and we'd record it, and then with a seal bone, and we'd record that. I think we recorded 49 different samples. I've processed and manipulated these samples, and placed them in the album's beat tracks.”
Getting Murderbike for the remix of ‘Muscles’ stood out to Dudley, who heard about them from their reputation as a live act a couple of years ago. He wanted them to draw the song out and go as weird as they wanted, and the Dunedin duo of ISO 12 (who previously remixed ‘Pīpīwharauroa’ for last year’s Deforestation) and Rachel Blackburn, went heavy with the rework, resulting in the vocal track being switched up so that the meaning behind the song is placed in a different context.
As for Zealandia, there’s currently a Boosted campaign to get the album completed, with editing, mixing and mastering needed to polish it off. Once that’s done, Dudley plans on shopping it to overseas labels in the hope that it will see a broader release.
“I won't be doing an album like this again,” he says. “At least until I forget how long it took to finish.”