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Primer: Now Hear This! Festival 2020 - Tuesday 13th to Sunday 18th October

Primer: Now Hear This! Festival 2020 - Tuesday 13th to Sunday 18th October

Chris Cudby / Image: Pumice / Tuesday 13th October, 2020 9:52AM

Audio Foundation's six night and two day Now Hear This! mega-festival of "glorious noise, sublime sounds, singular songs and ecstatic improvisation" kicks off this evening, taking over venues throughout Tāmaki Makaurau's Karangahape Road district up until Sunday 18th October. There's more than seventy artists and groups from throughout Aotearoa performing at Now Hear This!, with many combos playing in special one-off configurations for the biennial occasion. Taking the bull by the horns, former Audio Foundation team member and now UTR editor Chris Cudby has cooked up an accessible selection of off-the-cuff, non-comprehensive daily highlights from the fest — to help you navigate through its sonic waters and provide some bearings for newcomers to the infinitely rewarding, often obscure, and always changing world of experimental music in NZ. Enjoy the incredible diversity our live music community has to offer and open your ears to something new this week...

Tuesday 13th October - Audio Foundation, Auckland, 7pm start

The Theatrical Panopticon, Clinton Watkins, Centre Negative, Antonia Barnett-McIntosh, Dropzone, Ducklingmonster, Nihilist Assault Group

Offering a diverse lineup to kick it all off at Audio Foundation's subterranean HQ in the bottom of the Parisian Ties & Belts factory building (where ties and belts are in fact still being made), Tuesday night will likely be a casual affair before the festival madness truly takes hold. Ducklingmonster, Centre Negative (the project of Michael McClelland) and Dropzone should be familiar to dedicated UTR readers, and (fun fact) sound artist Clinton Watkins is half of robo-worshipping techno duo Go Nuclear, although audiences should go in expecting a more experiential sonic offering from him this evening. The night also features a performance by composer, performer, sound artist and freelance curator Antonia Barnett-McIntosh, the very first anti-performance by UK "noise-racketeers" Nihilist Assault Group, and will be opened by The Theatrical Panopticon who officially "cannot be described" and therefore must be witnessed first hand to take in the forbidden knowledge. Have a listen to Ducklingmonster's 'woo woo Beach' from her 2019 album Parts Of The Flower...

Wednesday 14th October - Audio Foundation, Auckland, 7pm start

Reuben Derrick & Ruby Hinepunui Solly, Tim Player, Simon Allen & Phil Dadson, Pumice, Blood Mothers, Stef Animal, P Wits, Jess Morgan

Another incredibly diverse selection of experimental and related artists from all around Aotearoa, already exposing the folly of this feature as every performer is truly top tier. UTR regulars Pumice, Stef Animal and P Wits / Jess Morgan are playing on a lineup which also includes legendary Intermedia artist Phil Dadson (From Scratch) performing with artist and instrument maker Simon Allen, and avant-nesian binary bending live favourites Blood Mothers — check out a very informative video spotlighting their artistic practice here:

Thursday 15th October - Unitarian Church, Auckland, 7pm start

Rachel Shearer, Rosy Parlane, Richard Francis, Lucy Hunter, Hermione Johnson, Peter Porteous, Chris O’Connor, Ruby Hinepunui Solly, Rasoul Abbasi, Tom Callwood, Anita Clark, Ro Rushton-Green, Eamon Edmundsen-Wells, Marija Dumitrijevic / mHz

Artweek open late (Sophie Sutherland) at Audio Foundation, 6pm-8pm

A deep listening evening in the resplendent surrounds of Unitarian Church, hosting a variety of NZ noise / soundscape veterans including Rachel Shearer, Rosy Parlane, Richard Francis, Hermione Johnson and Peter Porteous (Eye), alongside the multi-faceted sonics of percussionist extraordinaire Chris O’Connor (The Phoenix Foundation, who famously sometimes dons a tin can suit), violin virtuoso Anita Clark (Motte) and Dunedin's Lucy Hunter. Experience recent live footage of Hermione Johnson performing on grand piano late last year in Austria...

Friday 16th October - Wine Cellar / Whammy / Whammy Backroom, Auckland, 8pm start

The Pyramids Were Built From the Top Down, Ghost Bells (Porteous / Elborado / Yeats), Aotearoa Snuff Jazz Sextet, Grecco Romank, Riki Gooch & Al Fraser, Mo Zareei, Big Fat Raro, Citacsy, Native Bush, Stefanimal, Renee Barrance, Alice Sparrow, Lucky Paul, Samara Alofa, Motte w/ Chris O’Connor, Guardians

While most festivals would be wrapping it up at the day four mark, Now Hear This! take it up a notch with a whopping triple venue extravaganza at Wine Cellar / Whammy / Whammy Backroom. The unofficial "party night" of the fest (to me at least), there will indeed be sounds created to shake clubs in the midst of more freeform sonic wizardry and high decibel, ear-bleeding extremity. Newly formed noise rock supergroup Ghost Bells (Porteous / Elborado / Yeats) are playing a set, Riki Gooch & Alistair Fraser appear following the launch of their very fine album Rangatira via Noa Records, Pōneke-based electronic artist Big Fat Raro (of Fanau Spa) is always a must-see, Dunedin's Stef Animal plays a second set for those who missed her on Wednesday, Citacsy is the new solo project of Tash van Schaardenburg formerly of Bib Kids, and "post empire themed dungeon power techno" new trio Grecco Romank sound like a spicy proposition indeed. Get in the zone with recent footage of Big Fat Raro performing a live hardware set in the studios of 95bFM...

Saturday 17th October - Audio Foundation, Auckland

11am - Stephen Bain DRIFTING (free)

1pm to 6pm - MEL showcase, Reuben Derrick with Morphology, Jonny Marks, Al Fraser, Ruby Solly, Liam Bowen, Bonnie Stewart, Jo Burzynska, Knotted Throats

7pm to 12am - Mercedes Cambridge, CRUDE, Malcolm Riddoch, Bruce Russell with True Bliss Experience, BIG ROSES (Robbie Yeats / Joan George / Rachel Shearer), Mental Health Triangle, Mick Elborado, Riki Gooch, Pat Kraus, Anita Clark, Ro Rushton-Green

Saturday evening's lineup could also arguably be considered a "party night" as it features an all too rare Auckland performance by the legendary Crude, so there goes my plans for getting anything else done this weekend. More unmissable rare treats amongst the rock-solid bill include Bruce Russell of noise giants The Dead C with the intriguingly titled True Bliss Experience, irrepressible rap crew Mental Health Triangle, and supergroup BIG ROSES (Robbie Yeats / Joan George / Rachel Shearer). The Musical Electronics Library (M.E.L.) are also hosting a showcase event at Audio Foundation all Saturday afternoon — experience a taste of the good stuff to come with founder Pat Kraus' home recorded DIY video of 'Octatrack Black Diamond'...

Sunday 18th October - Auckland Old Folks Association Hall, Auckland

2pm to 6pm - 10 Acre Bloc, Māpura Studios, Kristian Larsen Bluetooth Orchestra, Parks, Nava, Larsen, Riki, Ivan Mrsic Group, Selective Noise Reuptake Inhibitor Increases Serotonin Burst-Induced Unconditioned And Context-Conditioned Freezing

Wind down with a Sunday afternoon event of sonic adventuring at the enjoyably named Auckland Old Folks Ass. — including long-running improvising big band 10 Acre Block and a performance by participants in the Māpura Studios creative music programme (tutored by Pumice's Stefan Neville).

NOW HEAR THIS! — full programme and artist info available at


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