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Premiere: Congress Of Animals Share Self-Titled Debut Album

Premiere: Congress Of Animals Share Self-Titled Debut Album

Thursday 6th December, 2018 12:05PM

After capturing the hearts of gig-goers across Aotearoa with last month's Strange Caravan tour, Wellington supergroup Congress Of Animals have unveiled their keenly anticipated self-titled debut album which we're thrilled to premiere here. The twelve track collection is a meeting of minds between capital city superstars Ben Lemi (Trinity Roots, Dawn Diver), Age Pryor (Fly My Pretties, Wellington Ukulele Orchestra), Justin Firefly (Fly My Pretties), and Nigel Collins (Flight Of The Concords, Wellington Ukulele Orchestra), with Bret McKenzie (Flight Of The Conchords) and Deanne Krieg joining the team on stage and in the studio. Recorded over two years with Lee Prebble at Surgery Studios, the sonically diverse record presents a range of material written by individual members before being brought into the fold of the band to work their collective magic, and is brimming with sneaky detours and unexpected pleasures. To give you an idea of the alchemical songwriting process involved in the album's creation, Ben Lemi shared with us an account of how his song 'To The Lookout' came together. Read his words and listen to an exclusive stream of Congress Of Animals below...

"Told in first person from the imagined perspective of a complete stranger that came to my house one day: 'To the Lookout' is basically an account of a peculiar encounter that took place in the garden outside of my house.

Wellington summer had begun to open up, and my partner was outside in the garden getting stuck in to the weeds from spring. I was in the studio at the time staring woefully at a large mixing session for a band, but through the shrill daytime chorus of newly hatched Cicadas I heard Erika calling my name with an unusually worried tone. I ventured outside to find a scrawny middle aged man of average height filling up his flask from the tap on the side of our house. His appearance was noticeably disheveled, clothes ragged, beard long; I can’t remember if he wore shoes or not. Like a startled animal, his demeanour became guarded once he saw Erika and I, and an overall feeling of wariness kicked in. Not wanting to antagonise, Erika politely asked;

“hey… what are you up to?”

He responded with;

“I’m going to eat some rice”

Abruptly he started back towards the entrance to our property but before making his exit, he turned to us in an almost formal manner and announced;

“Everybody knows my world, and I feel like I slave”

As the man left the property I felt an inclination to follow, and upon reaching the road I saw a last glimpse of his figure scrambling up the steep hill that takes you up to a Lookout behind the Berhampore Hockey Stadium. I often head up those ways to get the amazing view of the Airport directly in front, Wellington City and Mt. Vic on your left and Farewell Spit to your right.

It was like something out of a Jodorowsky film with a sort of occult character offering fatalistic prophesies to onlookers before dashing away on the skeleton of a wild steed. The memory really stuck with me as a combined feeling of sympathy for this person who appeared so obviously troubled to my eyes, and then the regret of feeling inhibited from reaching out with a more generous degree of compassion.

When I brought the song in to the studio it was a very much a sketch with lyrics intact and a vague idea of instrumentation but over a few months we managed to refine a "rhythmic feel" and expand the form of the piece. A majority of the CoA tunes were nearing completion in the studio by the time 'To the Lookout' was thrown on to the pile, so much of the flavour of the extra production elements (lead guitar garnishes, percussive timbres etc...) were informed by the group's collective aesthetic."

The self-titled debut album from Congress Of Animals is out on Friday 7th December.


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