Friday, July 19, 2024

Serato sale declined by CommCom

This month's issue of Metro magazine has an in-depth look at the history behind NZ DJ software company Serato, and looks at its proposed sale for $115m NZ announced in July last year, written by Chris Schulz.

That sale was cleared by the Overseas Investment Office, but has been held up by the review from the Commerce Commission, which has delayed announcing the outcomes a total of SIX times. They finally announced the outcome yesterday (18 July), declining clearance for the deal.

Metro: "On 17 April, the Commerce Commission will release its decision on whether Serato’s sale to AlphaTheta can proceed. A lot is riding on that decision. The process has, Ly admits, been unsettling for staff. Some have needed reassurance. “It caught us slightly off guard,” he repeats.

"What’s at stake? Read through the submissions and you’ll find heated arguments for both sides. Some say the company’s sale will create a global monopoly that locks out other competitors and stymie innovation. “It will definitely limit choices for the consumer and give [AlphaTheta] an unfair monopoly on both DJ hardware and software,” one unnamed DJ submitted. Local retail store Rockshop also spoke out, claiming “innovation will be lost, end users will have less choice and prices will increase”.

"That’s an argument also made by the biggest name in the fight against the sale. Morgan Donoghue was Serato’s marketing director, then chief operating officer, from 2011 to 2017. He left to manage InMusic NZ, a stable of imported DJ hardware brands. In its submission, InMusic states the sale would “substantially lessen competition” and “should not be cleared”. Donoghue didn’t respond to a Metro request for comment, but told the New Zealand Herald a month after the sale was announced: “We know the Serato guys, we’ve worked closely with them for years, we have a great relationship with them. We’re just worried that Pioneer buying them out would change everything.”

The Commerce Commission's press release said "AlphaTheta and Serato are both active in the DJ segment of the music industry. AlphaTheta supplies DJ hardware under the Pioneer DJ brand and DJ software under the rekordbox brand, and Serato supplies DJ software. Serato’s DJ software is currently integrated with many brands of DJ hardware, including Pioneer DJ.

The merger proposed bringing together two of the most popular DJ software brands and would have also combined ownership of the most popular DJ software brand (Serato) with the most popular DJ hardware brand (Pioneer DJ).

Chairman Dr John Small said that the Commission was not satisfied that the merger would not have the effect of substantially lessening competition in the markets for DJ software and DJ hardware.

“The evidence gathered by the Commission indicated that Serato and rekordbox compete closely in the DJ software market. While other DJ software providers would remain in the market, we did not consider these rivals, or the possibility of a new DJ software provider entering the market in the near term, would be sufficient to replace the level of competition that would be lost with the merger. We therefore could not exclude a real chance that the merger would result in a substantial lessening of competition for DJ software, resulting in price rises to consumers and/or a lower quality software offering,” Dr Small said.

BusinessDesk reports that Serato stated its too early to say whether they will appeal the decision. 

Friday, July 12, 2024

Lilith Fair documentary announced.

"A new CBC documentary about Lilith Fair, the touring music festival organized by Sarah McLachlan that featured an all-female lineup, has been announced. Directed by Ally Pankiw, the documentary will feature new interviews with McLachlan, Erykah Badu, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, Olivia Rodrigo, Indigo Girls, Emmylou Harris, Jewel, Natalie Merchant, Mýa, and Brandi Carlile.

The film will serve as a deep dive into Lilith Fair, which ran from 1997 to 1999 and had a one-off revival in 2010, by utilizing 600 hours of never-before-seen archival footage and interviews with artists, festival organizers, and fans." - Pitchfork

Jessica Hopper (director of 'Women Who Rock'), who wrote an oral history of the Lilith Fair, says Lilith's lessons remain relevant today.

"Safe space is something that we're still trying to foster and kind of hold it up as an ideal, and it's like wait — this was accomplished three summers in a row with the biggest names in music," she explains. "It showed people models of possibility."

Hopper's oral history inspired the documentary, and she's one of the executive producers on it, having worked on it since 2016. Quote from it below:

"During its three-year run, Lilith Fair made over 130 tour stops in North America, featured roughly 300 women artists, drew more than 1.5 million people, and grossed over $52 million—more than $10 million of which was donated to women’s charities. 

"The festival helped establish the careers of Missy Elliott, Erykah Badu, Dido, Nelly Furtado, Christina Aguilera, and Tegan and Sara, and brought the Dixie Chicks to a mainstream audience. The bills featured out, queer artists onstage, new artists alongside veterans, and an entire village of progressive activist causes. But more than anything else, it was visionary. Lilith Fair was glimpsing a possible future in which women were rightfully placed at music’s center and not its margins."

Building a Mystery: An Oral History of Lilith Fair” by Jessica Hopper with Sasha Geffen, and Jenn Pelly.

Friday, July 05, 2024

Jess B drops debut album

Happy album release day to Jess B, Auckland-based rapper who has been on the up and up for a while now. Check this tune off the album collaborating with Sampha the Great and Sister Nancy, it's a killer. 

Album ‘Feels Like Home’ out now:

Tuesday, July 02, 2024

Saturno 4000 new 7" on Batov Records

New wild funky biz from Batov: "Turkish psych, Afro-Latin rhythms, funk, and surf rock effortlessly converge on ‘Ma Belle Fille' and ‘Solar Heart’, the latest offerings from Berlin-based band Saturno 4000. These tracks, featured on their debut 45 for Batov Records, demonstrate the band’s eclectic melding of diverse musical styles with seamless precision.

Comprising Julia Beresikowa (vocals, guitar, percussions), Sebastian Carrizosa (guitar), Andrea Buccio (bass guitar), and Hannes Neupert (drums, percussions), Saturno 4000 isn’t just a studio project; they’ve extensively toured Germany’s live and festival circuit, captivating audiences with their infectious energy and layers of guitar fuzz. Out now.

Monday, July 01, 2024

Watch: BEAT DIGGIN' (2003 version)

"Beat Diggin' is the original documentary about the art of turning old vinyl into new music. Filmed in New York during Hip Hop's "golden age", the film features some of the music's most respected producers – Diamond D, Showbiz, Buckwild, Da Beatminerz and Godfather Don – at work and talking shop. 

We see them find obscure records in record shops and create tracks in the studio. And even record bangers by D.I.T.C., CRU and Shadez Of Brooklyn, as well as play some crazy unreleased heat. 

At a time before YouTube and social media were the norm, Beat Diggin' put a face on important, “faceless” artists. Since its release in 1998, the film has gained somewhat of a cult following and was selected for the New York International Independent Film Festival, but has been hard to find for a lot of heads. 

Now everybody can watch it online for free, in both the original 1998 version and a longer 2003 version with more stuff."

Monday, June 10, 2024

Beat Rhythm Fashion have dropped brand new album

Beat Rhythm Fashion had a run of singles in the early 1980s that is unparalled in NZ music, they are absolutely brilliant. The Wellington outfit faded away after making three definitive releases on 7", but returned several years back and have been writing and recording new material, here's some info on their latest....

"Critical Mass is the highly anticipated fourth album from Beat Rhythm Fashion. Containing, eleven new songs including the singles “No Wonder” and “World View”. It sees the band further focusing their “outside-observer” view on the machinations of the world.

"The album was recorded against the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic, lockdowns, difficult wifi, and the time and energy drain of work/life/responsibilities and obstacles. The band would not be stopped, and the end result is a strong, well-rounded album of focused songs encapsulating the otherworldly beauty that has been BRF’s trademark.

"The band make no concessions in their new work. It is intimate, personal and heartfelt, contemplating four decades of a changing-but-unchanging world landscape, encased in BRF's trademark ethereal, mesmeric, melodic, and beautiful music.

"Critical Mass follows 2019 album Tenterhook, which was the band’s first new material in 35 years. The group had taken an indefinite break after their 1981-82 classic trilogy of 7-inch singles including the now iconic “Turn of the Century” (Collated on 2007s Bring Real Freedom CD). The band re-emerged in 2019 picking up as if no time had passed and continued channelling their ahead-of-its- time melodic postpunk/proto-shoegaze/dreampop with class and style.

They supported the release of Tenterhook with a highly successful New Zealand tour playing to enthralled audiences. Afterwards, the three returned to their bases in the outer reaches of Wellington, Australia, and Japan to work on a follow-up.

The album was recorded and produced by Failsafe Records' Rob Mayes, who has produced recent albums by Haiku Redo, Colab, Orangefarm, Kimo, YFC, Like Angels, Throw, Springloader, and Dolphin. The tracks were mostly recorded remotely via home studios then sculpted via messenger chats on the songs' structures and sounds. Mixes sent at night and amended the next day, repeat until perfect. Singer-guitarist Nino Birch lives off grid on solar power in Australia, adding an extra layer of difficulty to the process.

Most of the vocals and guitars were recorded in one first take and additional vocals and guitars were recorded in Failsafe's Tokyo studios and then mixed over a six-month period.Beat Rhythm Fashion are:  Nino Birch (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Rob Mayes (bass, guitars, keyboards, drums), Caroline Easther (drums)

Critical Mass is available on hi-resolution digital download & deluxe CD from Bandcamp and the Failsafe Webstore and was released 3rd May 2024. Singles available through streaming and download services.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Peter Nelson and Renaissance - 70s kiwi funk uncovered

Crate diggers and fans of locally connected history funk and soul, take note. This never before released 1971 TV special soundtrack from Christchurch lad Peter Nelson and his Hong Kong-based Renaissance band features original compositions alongside jams from Buddy Miles, Booker T, and the classic Proud Mary, and is set to write a crucial new chapter in our funky history books. With a band made up of Kiwi, Sydney, and British ex-pats to tour in and around Hong Kong, Peter Nelson left the Castaways to dominate the Asian nightclub touring circuit, and did exactly that- Flying Out.

"It’s late 1968 and Peter Nelson, ex vocalist with the popular Christchurch and Sydney based soul/ r&b group ‘Peter Nelson & The Castaways is now performing in Hong Kong where he is offered a contract to join Brian Epstein’s NEMS Organisation in London via Cilla Black’s husband Bobby Willis. Peter turns down the offer and instead forms a new group Renaissance for the lucrative Hong Kong club scene. 

Peter recruits the cream of available musicians that were around at the time and lured Billy Kristian (bass), Wally Scott (guitar, sax & flute both ex Ray Columbus & The Invaders) from Sydney, who joined Hong Kong drummer Steve Tebbitt along with English studio musician Brian Robertshaw (brass) who played on numerous sessions for John Barry’s James Bond soundtrack music and seasoned keyboardist John Gordon who had been a working musician in the UK in everything from late fifties rock ‘n’ roll bands to the Black & White minstrel show. 

With so much experience behind them the group quickly jelled into the hottest soul/ funk band in the Pacific and South East Asian circuit. These recordings are the unreleased soundtrack from their TBS Network (Hong Kong) tv special in 1971 and features four original compositions along with punchy versions of Buddy Miles funk soul classics ‘Them Changes’ and ‘Runaway Child’ alongside their versions of ‘Vehicle’, Green Onions’, ‘Proud Mary’ and more."

Pre-order Peter Nelson and the Renaissance on orange vinyl LP from Flying Out, out June 14.

The whole album is already on YouTube if you want to talk a listen, added below....

Also out June 14 from Frenzy Music, 'The Peter Nelson Collection' on CD. Compiling his work with Peter Nelson and the Castaways, Renaissance, and some solo tunes.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Dubs From The Neighbourhood by christoph el' truento, out June 3

New dub vibes incoming from Christoph El Truento, out June 3 on vinyl/digital. If you enjoyed his last dub effort Peacemaker Dub (2019, vinyl reissue 2023), then. you will dig this. 

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Bad Brains reissue I Against I LP

Bad Brains LP - I against I reissue 2024

"I Against I is the third studio album from Bad Brains, originally released in 1986 on SST Records. It remains influential to this day, inspiring countless punk, ska, reggae, and hardcore bands with its innovative sound and uncompromising attitude.

"This reissue marks the eighth release in the remaster campaign, re-launching the Bad Brains Records label imprint. In coordination with the band, Org Music has overseen the restoration and remastering of the iconic Bad Brains’ recordings. The audio was mastered by Dave Gardner and pressed at Furnace Record Pressing. Available July 26, 2024. (Buy CD, LP,  Cassette, Digital)

From Daryl Jenifer, original and long-standing Bad Brains bassist:

“Hey what’s up Bad Brains family - Darryl Jenifer here. I’m proud to announce to you the blessings and return of all Bad Brains master rights / recordings to Bad Brains and out of Babylonian captivity. These rights and other items include master reels, recently discovered photos, and etc. 

Thanks to JAH and all involved in this glorious feat. Stay tuned for the “re-everything” involved in all of our NINE studio albums and more. Big UP to Org Music for their faith, hard work, and dedication to BAD BRAINS RECORDS WE GOT THAT PMA 2020 and beyond.”

Friday, May 10, 2024

Shogun Orchestra are ancient relics (kidding)

Lucien Johnson led the Wellington outfit Shogun Orchestra in the early 2010, releasing two albums. The first self-titled album came out 2010, followed by Black Lotus in 2013. The sound was inspired by time he spent living in Haiti. Both albums are available on Bandcamp.

This clips is from a live show playing a tune off Black Lotus, with the talented Jennifer Zea on vocals. I remember seeing Shogun Orchestra when they toured for the album in November 2013, they did a great show at Ponsonby Social Club. The band arrived not long before showtime - I think they had some car troubles on the drive up from Welli. They managed to rally themselves and got a groove on. 

These days Lucien Johnson has been releasing some great jazz albums under his own name, the latest came out in April this year - Ancient Relics (listen below). 

I heard an interview with him recently where he said he's had people, say to him 'I don't like jazz, but this is really great' to describe the album, so go give it a listen. For jazz fans and non jazz fans alike.