The Explorers Club: Antarctica
Banished From The Universe
Sam Prebble has, as Bond Street Bridge, already offered a small handful of great things – see here for previous albums/EPs but his brand new album appeared first as an audacious live show (and parts of it as an EP). This is no trick title, the songs that form The Explorers Club: Antarctica have been created by Prebble out of the diary accounts and stories surrounding Captain Scott’s British Antarctic Expedition and Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
Wait, come back…
I had some reservations about seeing the show – only in that I worried if the theme might dominant and seem overly earnest, the songs cloying. But I was wrong about that. As I said here it was an amazing show and what a risk from Prebble. And what a talent he is.
For the album-version Logan Compain adds drums and Dylan Storey offers guitar and vocals. Nina McSweeney’s backing/duetting vocals circle Prebble’s and Brendan Turner adds double-bass and backing vocals. Prebble is out front as the snake-charmer conjuring these songs. His guitar low-slung, his fiddle sawing into the sides of songs.
It helps that you can take this on without worrying about the history lesson – it stands up as a set of songs. Call it a bonus that there’s an education here on offer.
Somehow Prebble knows, intuitively, the heart of great folk music and by going this far back he has, somehow and perhaps ironically, updated that sound. Tunes like Watery Sky and The Wreck of the Endurance and Great God! This Is An Awful Place would almost be standouts but this needs to be taken in as a whole. Fortunately there’s not a dud among the nine album tracks.
Great writing informs this work but it works because the sound of it is intoxicating. The performances sell this as music above and beyond, around and beside (any worries about) the concept.
A work of rare genius – you need to hear this. You need to have it. There should be some Government-sponsored campaign to get this music into every home and school. Oh wait, isn’t that called NZ on Air? Oh well. I’m sure they helped. Or will tag a logo when they can…
Buy this for any ex-pat friends and family. Buy this for anyone and everyone you know. Buy this for yourself. Support one of the finest musical talents New Zealand is lucky to have.