Out now on First Word Records... "On 'Distant Oceans', Ross McHenry has brought together six of the world's foremost musical innovators for the first time on record. The ensemble features one of the most exciting and in demand producers and keyboardists in the world today, Mark de Clive Lowe; the rhythmic foundation of renowned NZ ensemble Electric Wire Hustle, Myele Manzanza; multi-instrumentalist and composer Adam Page and leading Australian instrumentalists Dylan Marshall, Jon Hunt and Luca Spiler. Imagine John Coltrane meeting the Brainfeeder collective and you're somewhere close to the sound of Distant Oceans.
To give you a glimpse into the influences behind the record, Ross has put together a mix on Mixcloud - you can check that here. You can also buy the record here - it's limited to only 500 copies (vinyl only, no CD!) so grab em while you can!
Ross McHenry interview, w Rip it Up Australia, excerpts...
McHenry said the project took 18 months of preparation before their first performance at Adelaide Festival’s Barrio in March of this year.
“Bringing together three artists from overseas to work in Adelaide in a project is a pretty massive undertaking. It was definitely the biggest thing logistically I’ve ever done, which is saying something, since I’ve done records with over 20 people. But for me it was the next step. I like working on big projects, and thinking big, and I’m happy to work on long timeframes to make those a reality.”
McHenry met drummer Myele Manzanza in London at the Redbull Music Academy in 2010 and keyboardist and electronic manipulator Mark de Clive-Lowe while studying with Miguel Atwood-Ferguson in LA in 2011. He had them and saxophonist Adam Page, who now resides in Wellington, in mind when writing music for The Future Ensemble.
“One of the beautiful things about writing music is that you’re writing knowing that whoever plays the music is going to bring their own personality to it. It was a pretty cool opportunity to write for a totally different set of people who are amazing artists and really quite influential within their field in the global music scene.”
The band went into the studio the day after their Barrio performance after only two rehearsals, resulting in the Distant Oceans record. McHenry said the recording process wasn’t different to performing live because it was recorded entirely live.
“There’s no overdubs, no edits, it is what it is. To me, even though it’s never 100 percent perfect, it’s actually much more beautiful that way, it’s much more human.”
McHenry wouldn’t call Distant Oceans a jazz record, but a contemporary instrumental record equally influenced by jazz and electronic music and hip hop.
“Hip hop and electronic music has had a profound influence on me as a musician, the way that I perceive music, and the way that I write music. To deny that and try to do something that is more traditional is actually not being true to myself. I think that’s the view of the artist involved in this project has, and it’s why I wanted to work with them in the first place.”
McHenry was blown away by money raised through crowd funding, which made the recording of the album possible.
“People aren’t really buying physical albums anymore, and as a result the investment in the creation of albums declined dramatically. There is a need for people who love music to support it in any way they can, and pre-ordering via crowd funding is pretty good way to support the music that you want to see made in the world.”
McHenry said there are already plans in the works to record and play shows mid-to-late next year. “You’ll definitely be seeing a lot more of this group.”