Reviewed by Ania Glowacz

Dudley Benson: Zealandia

Reviewed by Ania Glowacz

Dudley Benson: Zealandia

If you are unfamiliar with the quirky and extremely talented artist known as Dudley Benson, he introduces himself thus: “I am a queer independent artist based in Dunedin. I make music about nature and nationalism.”

That he does and does it with extreme originality. This is a landmark album that clearly illustrates his whole ethos. Described by the artist himself as a love album to the (our) land and also 12 alternatives to the national anthem…

Benson paints in very bold strokes and ‘Zealandia’ is a creative triumph.

Musically experimental – and vastly so sonically – this is electronic pop with huge depth and creativity.

This has been no casual dalliance. It has taken eight years to make and cost an incredible $90K… covered bit by bit with grants, crowdfunding etc. Considering Benson’s last release involved a hell of a lot of birdsong, this is next level, including the National Youth Choir and the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra.

There are many gorgeous textures, this album is the complete opposite of background music, requiring your full attention. Birth Of A Nation (“Can we de-colonise ourselves?”), Cook Beleaguered, Matariki, Rutu, Solo (“We got ice cream on a leash…”), Opo (yeah, the famous dolphin). Benson’s vocals evoke Antony + The Johnsons, Arca, a wee bit of Neil Tennant.

Years ago, Dudley learnt Te Reo and engaged in discussions around. This album touches on (de-)colonisation and identity – especially being Pakeha and understanding what it means to be a NZer in the 21st century.

Recorded by Andre Upston (who also did the orchestral mix), Lee Prebble, Mike Gibson and of course, Dudley Benson, an extremely talented and unique artist.