Best Albums of 2016
selected by Martyn Pepperell

FIS <BR>“From Patterns To Details”

“From Patterns To Details”

Ecstatic electronic noise that deals with the relationship between man, permaculture systems, nature and technology.

Heart-driven techno naturalism for the new millennium, sample on headphones or with a subwoofer, before digging into FIS’ substantial back catalogue and many thoughtful interviews.

♪♫ Listen: “SeaPR” + album stream

FIS on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.

Groeni <BR>“Hinde”


What happens when you ride the line between spiritual folk music and abrasive noise techno, all delivered in a live analogue gear heavy format? Listen to “Hinde” by Groeni to find out.

Since signing with Hiatus Kaioyte’s Wondercore Island record label last year, this Wellington trio have gone from strength to strength.

It’s been heartening to see them make the transition from gigging at small local bars to playing on festival stages overseas.

♪♫ Listen: “Hedre” + album stream

Groeni on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Leila Adu <BR>“Love Cells/Scary Love Monster”

Leila Adu
“Love Cells/Scary Love Monster”

A dizzying genre, language and border-crossing exploration of Grimm’s fairy tales, avant-tronica, urban and suburban romantic ensnarement, and universal love in both abstract and mundane forms.

Shades of celestial jazz, freak folk, soul, acapella, noise pop, downbeat and RnB shimmer in and out of each other across two complimentary EPs.

Leila Adu will turn your ears out, and maybe your mind as well.

♪♫ Listen: “Love Cells” + album stream

Leila Adu on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Lontalius <BR>“I’ll Forget 17”

“I’ll Forget 17”

Who better than a 19-year-old New Zealander based in Los Angeles to correctly and holistically integrate the central themes, motifs and production ideas of classic indie rock and modern RnB into a new emotional sound?

While born on the internet, the album resonates with late night feelings and calm of expansive outdoor terrain everywhere. Lontalius might forget 17, but chances are we won’t.

♪♫ Listen: “Kick In The Head” + album stream

Lontalius on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Merk <BR>“Swordfish”


Merk isn’t quite making throwback 90s college rock homages, but he isn’t quite making Unknown Mortal Orchestra/Tame Impala informed modern psyche-pop either.

He’s definitely into Pavement, but he also knows who Hiroshi Satoh is, and has probably worn a bit of flannel in his time.

“Swordfish”, while far from perfect, suggests that if we don’t keep listening, we’re really going to have played ourselves in an album or two.

♪♫ Listen: “I’m Easy” + album stream

Merk on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Myele Manzanza <BR>“OnePointOne”

Myele Manzanza

This is yet another great example of what happens when a generation of practised and passionate musicians raised on hip-hop, neo-soul and beats start making their own takes on jazz, soul and funk, as filtered through that particular frame.

London has Yuseef Kamaal, Los Angeles has Kamasi Washington, and Wellington, New Zealand has Myele Manzanza. “OnePointOne” (live at bluewhale) is a window into his celestial jazz ‘n’ beats visions, one you’ll want to gaze through for a while.

♪♫ Listen: “City of Atlantis” feat. Charlie K + album stream

Myele Manzanza on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Purple Pilgrims <BR>“Eternal Delight”

Purple Pilgrims
“Eternal Delight”

Psychic sisters, also the daughter of a psychic mother (and potentially a psychic grandmother, and great grandmother) grow up between Christchurch, New Zealand and Hong Kong. Homeschooling amplifies their sense of myth and legend, and love of music.

After a series of earthquakes level Christchurch, they travel the world performing a pastoral-but-increasing-cybernetic brand of dream pop. Tours with Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Gary War and Ensemble Economique lead to 10” and 12” vinyl singles, and after an extended recording stint in the North Island kiwi bush, the ethereal delights of “Eternal Delight”.

Soothing, thoughtful and brave, it’s one of my favourite albums of the year.

♪♫ Listen: “Forever” + album stream

Purple Pilgrims on Bandcamp, Facebook, www.

SmokeyGotBeatz Presents <BR>“SWIDT VS Everybody”

SmokeyGotBeatz Presents
“SWIDT VS Everybody”

When I was in Los Angeles in July, I played a few of Onehunga rap crew SWIDT’s songs to an Uber driver while we were driving down the freeway. It was one of those scenarios when by half way through the song, he was somehow already singing along and knew the words?

I’m not going to go into detail here, but this is what happens when a group of young Pacific Islanders from New Zealand not only reinterpret the West Coast American rap, g-funk and p-funk they love into a fresh regional take, they actually get the opportunity to work closely with some of their heroes.

♪♫ Listen: “No More Parties In Stoneyhunga” + album stream

SWIDT on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, www.

So Laidback Country China <BR>“Sin Cristales”

So Laidback Country China
“Sin Cristales”

So Laidback Country China shouldn’t really be a New Zealand band. They should be an eighties Australian post-punk band in the tradition of The Birthday Party, Rowland S. Howard and their peers.

While “Sin Cristales” is their second album, it should really be the first that connects their poetic lyrics, expansive guitar-led ambience and dusty desert grooves with a larger audience.

♪♫ Listen: “Garden Lost Child Pt.2” + album stream

So Laidback Country China on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Surly <BR>“Surly”


With the release of his self-titled EP via Los Angeles footwork crew/label Juke Bounce Werk, Auckland, New Zealand producer and DJ Surly brought whole new strands of jazz and jungle/drum and bass infused sonics into the longstanding traditions of Chicago juke and footwork music.

Right now, Surly feels just a couple of singles or EPs away from establishing himself as a major new voice on the international music scene.

♪♫ Listen: “The Tradition” + album stream

Surly on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.