Turnbull mixtape 8: Desert island digitalsMay 8th, 2020 By Sholto Duncan
Welcome back to the 8th edition of the Turnbull Mixtape! We mixed things up last year and it was a great success so this year we are flipping and reversing it again!
Music can be a powerful tool for healing and in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic and our lives being impacted in many different ways we thought we would put together a mixtape of music to encourage relaxation and promote feelings of calmness.
Castaways on a desert island
Borrowing the format of the hugely successful Desert Island Discs and moving into the digital world, we have invited staff from throughout the Library to think about what they would take on their device should they be cast away to a desert island, aka social isolation in Aotearoa (we will assume for convenience the desert Island has wifi!)
We asked each contributor to select their favourite ‘relaxing’ track from our Creative Commons collections, their favourite podcast, and one optional luxury item (app) they couldn’t do without. We also got them to share the reasons behind their choices and any other tips they had for promoting a positive outlook in these challenging times.
Let us know in the comments
We would love to hear from you too! If you would like to get involved simply post your choices and advice in the reply section of the blog. If it’s NZ content we may even end up adding it to our music and podcast collections.
If you are wanting to create your own music playlist this Guardian article has some great insights into how music can alter your state of mind and boost your productivity whilst working from home.
As per usual, you can listen to the tracks below, download the files as a zip, and if you want to add it to your bandcamp collection and listen to previous mixtapes, head to the Turnbull Mixtape on bandcamp.
Happy listening everyone.
1. Glen Downie, Library Assistant
Thaw / Reuben Derrick
‘Thaw’ is calm, introspective, and really draws you into a delicate soundworld. The result isn’t the usual silky notes people will expect from the saxophone, but fragile sounds that are always present, though usually hidden away. I find the intense focus on these sounds, which are almost threatened by their disappearance into both silence or noise, almost meditative.
The Rubbish Trip
Hannah and Liam, the no waste nomads, are an amazing couple who have dedicated the last few years of their lives to living and advocating a zero waste existence. Their passion and commitment to such a pressing and important environmental issue is inspiring.
2. Keith McEwing, Assistant Curator Music
Palestrina - Sicut lilium inter spinas
What better way to maintain a link with the past and the present, with Europe and with Wellington by listening to this! A cappella music of Italian Renaissance composers Palestrina and Pizzetti, recorded by Wellington’s own Tudor Consort, would provide the perfect setting for meditation and doing Tai Chi and watching the sunrises and sunsets on a desert island.
Off the Tracks
With time on hand, catching up on all the background of New Zealand music and the arts by listening to ‘Off the Tracks’ by Simon Sweetman would be the best way to pass the time. Radio New Zealand’s podcast Spectrum, their radio programme from 1972 to 2016, would come a close second with interesting material of wide-ranging subjects collected from over 40 years.
Given that my Mojo Coffee App will not be of much use to me on a desert Island my next choice would be the Pimsleur App. Using my time to refine the couple of languages I have loaded would provide perfect balance between that, Tai Chi to Palestrina, and podcasts. The Pimsleur App would provide the closest to a conversation with someone other than myself (short of an actual telecommunication app that is), and having accomplished a selection of languages could also come in handy for any rescue ships passing by.
3. Sholto Duncan, Web Archivist
Doom / Popolice
I've been a fan of Melbourne based Popolice for a while now and we have several of their albums in our CC collection (with more to come as I put my music selector hat on). This melancholie track seems entirely appropriate for the overarching themes of isolation and loneliness, I also find it particularly catchy!
Fangradio is Neil Finn's daily audiostream and he is currently joined by sons Liam and Elroy locked down together in California. It’s a great mix of anecdotes from the past, family banter, live performances from their ever-growing catalogue of music, and interesting covers. You can check out archived streams on Neil’s website and we have archived copies of the site in our Web Archive.
I use Shazam all the time for both work and home, I love being able to instantly know what I’m listening to and have suggestions of similar music.
4. Michael Brown, Curator Music
Diamond Harbour / High Harbour
As per the title, a sense of maritime landscape informs the ambient frequencies on offer here: shards of glitchy flotsam bobbing on a tide of phaser swells which roll through and break. Cranked up on a golden autumn afternoon, this is a thoroughly relaxing sonic immersion as far as I'm concerned. Also nice to find out (after the fact, mind you) that High Harbour is the work of my colleague Nick Guy, ATL Senior Sound Conservator.
A guide to the worlds of rock, pop, country, folk and beyond, hosted by music critic William Dart.
RNZ music critic William Dart has been providing thought-provoking explorations of the musical past and present for many decades — my memories of his 'New Horizons' programme go back to coverage of U2's Joshua Tree (1987) and Joni Mitchell's Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm (1988). Whether making fertile connections across musical time and space, uncovering new artists, or re-encountering old classics, William provides a staple aesthetic appreciation that I always find nourishing.
Likes being off-grid
I'm not particularly tied to any specific app, so I will enjoy the opportunity to be off-grid while it lasts!
5. Amy Joseph, Team Leader Collection Development (Legal Deposit)
Absurd reality / Life is Hate
The brief called for ‘relaxing’, but I’ve gone for cathartic with ‘Absurd Reality’ from the self-titled 2016 EP from noise punks Life is Hate. Apart from being aptly titled for this reality we’re all living through, it’ll be just the ticket if I’m trapped on this hypothetical desert island with my one-year old daughter. Here in our bubble it makes her thrash about with the most delighted grin on her face, which is great way to relax if you ask me.
In the legal deposit office, we’ve been doing a lot of work over the past year or so to set up automated harvesters to collect New Zealand podcasts for the National Digital Heritage Archive – stay tuned for a future blog post on this project. My favourite NZ podcast Access Granted shut up shop while we were working on the project – as of May 2020 their website is still live, but I’m glad we’ve collected all the episodes for posterity.
Over the years that this tech and media podcast ran, the creators did awesome mahi telling stories from people who are under-represented in the story of tech, and the dedication and innovation of their guests often blew me away and gave me a fresh perspective on things. Being Wellington-based there was a big focus on GovTech, but I liked it when they took us away from the big city to talk to people from key NZ sectors like agritech as well.
My next pick confronts challenging times head on. In my role as leader of the legal deposit team I spend a lot of time thinking about how media is published and consumed in contemporary Aotearoa – but not nearly as much as Duncan Grieve, founder and managing editor of The Spinoff (which has all-round great podcast game). Greive’s podcast on the New Zealand media landscape The Fold was already a must-listen podcast for me, and he’s not wasting time grappling with how the economic fallout from Covid-19 will play out for our news media (honourable mention goes to the Mediawatch segments on RNZ).
Apart from my podcast app, you mean? I think I’ll be boring and say Twitter. In the grand scheme of things it’s a trashfire, sure, but in my little world of librarians, digital preservationists and lovely whipsmart Kiwis, it’s a great place to feel part of a community and keep connected to professional life.
6. Maia-Jeane McAllister, Library Assistant
Butcher / Malty Media
I was browsing through the CC archive for this mixtape – a great time – and chickens caught my eye. I love chickens, and I’m a sucker. I listened and I really enjoyed the chill vibes and “whimsical Orb-like soundscapes with an Antipodean twist” as they say so themselves.
Shit Hot People’s Politburo
The podcast SHP’sP is crass. Its angry, irreverent, NZ based Marxist political commentary. They are deliberately provocative, and sadly on hiatus(?).
An app was suggested to me once, and I thought I was too good for it. I don’t need a shopping list app, I have a pen and paper! Actually, despite the ads and the mild attempt at gamification, Bring is actually a useful shopping list sharing app. Multiple lists can be shared with other people using the app, items can be added and removed easily so everyone knows what’s been got.
7. Sean McMahon, Assistant Curator Manuscripts
Ghost of Hollywood / John Egenes
I don't know a lot about John Egenes. He's an American living in the South Island and works as Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Music at the University of Otago. He's a multi-instrumentalist and plays folksy/country tunes. Up for Air is an upbeat album that just hums along with some lovely banjo, fiddle and steel guitar playing. Egenes is also an interesting storyteller and the lyrics are well worth paying attention to. Ghost of Hollywood is probably the least county of all the tracks on here, but it is an evocative story with some wonderful female backing vocals. I don't listen to a lot of country but growing up the neighbour's cousin was the New Zealand country singer John Hore and she was always playing his albums. I think in lock-down down I've become a bit nostalgic for the 1960s.
Ours – A podcast of twenty Te Papa objects
Currently I am part of a four-person team that is working to develop a National Library of NZ podcast called The Library Loudhailer. It is on hold until we can return to the Library and be reunited with our recording equipment. Hopefully we will be online before the end of the year.
Te Papa ran a twenty-part podcast with Radio New Zealand looking into twenty of their special objects. It is a wonderful insight into their Collection in general, and specifically these twenty museum pieces. On a musical note they have two woollen doll creations depicting the Topp Twins.
Libby is an app that lets you log in to your local library to access eBooks, audiobooks, and magazines, all for the reasonable price of free. I use it to loan eBooks from the Wellington Public Library which is not only in lockdown under Covid-19, but also in lock-down pending reconstruction.
One website which doesn’t have an app, but should, is the fabulous Audio Culture: The noisy library of New Zealand music website. I’m loving their recent series on vinyl records shops in the Wellington region. More nostalgia, but I probably spent more time in Silvio’s record shop than I did in college.
Take time to smell the roses
First thing in the morning don’t jump straight onto your laptop or the cell phone. Take time to enjoy your breakfast gazing through the windows upon a world which is the quietest it ever will be.
8. Aleisha Ward, Research Librarian Music
Is this him / Daniel Hayles
As a historian of NZ jazz, I’ve got to pick a jazz track. I love Wellington pianist’s EP Eldest of Five for its call back to the jazz-electronica of the mid-90s - in the days when I was trying and failing to get into Auckland clubs to see Nathan Haines, and Mark de Clive-Lowe (I was way underage, and looked younger!). It’s hard to pick just one track, but Is This Him epitomises that 90s feel.
Sound of the hound
The Sound of the Hound explores the very early days (1800s!) of the recording industry in London and the establishment of Gramophone Company, which would become one of the biggest early record labels in the world.
My go-to place to access and buy new music. Absolutely couldn’t live without it!
Considering many of us have less than ideal at home work spaces and have to combine work and living all in the same space have a ritual to end your work day and start your home time. Could be a daily phone/video call with a friend, a glass of your favourite tipple, exercise — anything you want (mine’s dancing), but just something that helps mentally separate work from life.
9. Matt Steindl, Reading Room Services Leader
Copy & paste / Double Ya D
Whanganui-a-tara based record label Stink Magnetic has been going since the Stone Age and has played host to pretty much all of the greatest bands Aotearoa and the galaxy has ever witnessed. Drawing inspiration from Jurassic era, the 1950s and the post-apocalyptic future, Stink Times at Castle Magnetula is without question thee soundtrack to a global pandemic. Without fail, every song on this spectacular compilation sounds like it was recorded in a dystopian wasteland by mutant cave-zombies hitting whatever miscellaneous debris a ruined civilisation has left behind: giants bones, trash cans, bits of charred meat, fried circuits, killer bees and empty yoghurt pottles. So, y’know, a bit of advance preparation for us all.
The Off Spin
Remember sports? Me too. I even remember the 2019 Cricket World Cup final (although I sometimes wish I didn’t). The Off Spin was a pop-up podcast produced by The Spinoff to cover that fiasco. They only produced a handful of episodes, but they were hilarious and really entertaining. Fingers crossed that when cricket returns, the Off Spin will too.
Under The Radar
Remember gigs? Me too. Usually. UTR’s app is indispensable for music fans I reckon. Not only does it feature all the important music news of note (new releases, up-coming tours, celebrity break-ups), it also includes a ridiculously comprehensive gig-guide
10. Sholto Duncan, Web Archivist
Let us pretend we have no place to go / Metal Rouge
This is a long listen at 40 minutes but the title is very apt in these times where we can’t even pretend we have places to go. Escape the lockdown, get lost in the music. “Patched together from studio offcuts, live fragments and happy accidents, 'Let Us Pretend..' is like dipping a net into Metal Rouge's recorded memory. I like collage, I like chance, I prefer b-side collections to proper albums: I had always wanted to make something like this.” (Metal Rouge).