Mali Mali (a.k.a. Ben Tolich) is a songwriter and performer from Auckland, NZ. He’s about to go on tour in support of his new album As A Dog Dreams, his second album following Gather ‘round the Gooseclock (2013) and the Brotherly EP (2010). Here are five albums he’s loving right now…
1 – Damien Jurado, Visions Of Us On The Land: Damian Jurado has been in the music game a long time as a singer/songwriter but this album and previous record, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son are the sound of him really coming out of his shell. He’s not one to be boxed in to a particular genre but he has one of my favourite natural singing voices and his abstract yet poetic lyrics really create a unique world in his songs. This album is the third album in the “Maraqopa” trilogy. A fictional town based on a single life-changing dream. Visions has a really lush psychedelic sound. I really love Richard Swift’s production on these albums and the variety of influences ranging from South American rhythms, wild-western style compositions, and solo acoustic songs. Also an interesting guy to watch in interviews.
2 – Stolen Violin, Temperate Touch, Tropical Tears: This has been a fav of mine since 2013. When I recorded my debut album (Gather ’round the Gooseclock) in Cairns I got to witness the beginning of Stolen Violin. Jordan Ireland was one of the main performers and songwriters in the band The Middle East and when they called it quits he went solo. We performed a backyard show together where he was trying out new stuff and I fell in love with the songs instantly. This album is lo-fi but still beautifully put together. You have to dig a little but it doesn’t take long to realise your’e listening to a naturally gifted songwriter. I love his melodic guitar playing and how his vocals seem to lead his fingers as opposed to the other way around. I love the layers and rough production, and World of Sun is one of the most beautiful songs. This album played a big roll in me wanting to get into home recording.
3 – Radiohead, The King Of Limbs: I had the realisation recently – as I have been listening to it a lot – that this is potentially my favourite Radiohead album. I love the sense of adventure they took in going this direction. Once I got over the initial hump and accepted these new sounds and grooves in to my musical vocabulary it became the easiest Radiohead album to play from beginning to end. It’s crisp and hypnotic and suits all times of day and all types of weather. Someone once referred to it as Radiohead’s “Buddha” album and I agree. It’s their most uplifting and meditative and the last four songs flow so well together. Also, The King Of Limbs really showcases Colin Greenwood’s clever, tasteful bass playing.
4 – Sun Kil Moon, Benji: Man, this was a confronting first listen… emotionally but also creatively. I felt like throwing in the towel. It’s one of those albums that seemed to reach me at the perfect time. I needed to hear it and I’m so glad I did. Sun Kil Moon (a.k.a Mark Kozelek) takes the phrase “Write what you know” to a whole new level. This album came out of a time when he began writing lyrics in a stream-of-conscious style. But unlike more recent Sun Kil Moon releases Benji seems to have the perfect balance of stream-of-conscious vs delicate song-craftsmanship. by the time the song Micheline finished I was a wreck. The subject matter is so unique, painful and painstakingly personal… but in turn it becomes completely universal. His guitar work is beautiful and his sense for melody along with the depth of character in his voice is brilliant. Bloody yes.
5 – Sigur Ros, Valtari: All these albums share something in common in that they take me to a very unique place in my mind. Sigur Ros was one of the first bands to do this to me. They gave me a real appreciation for texture and showed me the power a single chord change can have if you pack it with the right ingredients. Also one of the first bands to make me cry as a result of a song being uplifting as opposed to sad. This album wasn’t a big hit for them necessarily but I really like its structure. I like how the last three tracks have no vocals and how understated this album is for them. The title track is one of my favourite Sigur Ros pieces. So foreboding and mysterious yet somehow comforting. They create unique sounds within their context that play wonderful tricks on my imagination.