John Psathas & Pedro Carneiro

Best Classical Album finalist - 2010 NZ Music Awards



John Psathas (electronic soundscapes)
Pedro Carneiro (vibes, marimba and junk percussion)
Jeremy Fitzsimmons (marimba and assorted percussion)
Stroma conducted by Hamish McKeich
Tim Prebble (remix of One Summary)

Zen monks and haiku poets spoke of life in terms of a transient ‘floating world’ (ukiyo), or of a dream that vanishes. In the traditional Buddhist view, our corporeal existence is one in which happening gives way to happening, illusion follows illusion, and all is no more than a phantasm, void of substance.

    Tsukikage o
    katte ima iku

    I borrow moonlight
    for this journey
    of a million miles

Written by the haiku poet Saikaku, as he was about to die on the eighth day of the eighth month, 1730, at the age of seventy.  

This CD is dedicated to the memory of Drew Menzies, colleague, inspiration, friend.




I’ve never thought of my music as classical. I just often use old instruments (like an orchestra). I’m equally comfortable working with Serj Tankian, Michael Brecker, and the Little Bushman as I am working with Michael Houstoun or the Halle Orchestra.

Today most of the world’s culture is a key tap away, and a great many artists have moved on from even thinking about genre or category. I guess what does make the music on this album different is the use of groove. The album presents four new percussion-centred pieces, with rhythm and groove very much to the fore.

One Study One Summary and Psyzygysm tap into the idea of groove as something that makes you want to move. But I feel powerful groove in the last movement of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, Pat Metheny’s Bright Size Life, and Bijan Chemirani’s Yunan.

Music to me is about movement. Music is a trigger, whether it’s emotional, visceral or physical. It will never cease to amaze me how sonic energy travelling through the medium of air can make us want to get out of our chair and move around the room. Or how these abstract audio impulses can make us see the person in front of us in a different light, in matter of seconds. How does this happen?

Percussion is the best for tightly interlocked and driving rhythms. The right kind of groove creates in us an undeniable urge to move and - the best of all possibilities - to move together. One Study One Summary is cool about its rhythm. Psyzygysm generates heat, and at times, fever. Ukiyo is meditative, centred and grounded. Rhythm communicates with a visceral, subconscious, and primal energy. We respond to it without thinking, often without understanding how or why.




RAT-D018 (April, 2010)

This project was made with the support of Victoria University, New School of Music and Creative New Zealand

Producton: John Psathas
Recording: Steve Garden



   One Study  (6:17)

   One Summary  (5:45)
      Pedro Carneiro (marimba, junk percussion)
      John Psathas (electronics)
         Commissioned by Pedro Carneiro
         with support from Creative New Zealand

   Ukiyo  (9:33)
      Pedro Carneiro (vibraphone)
      Jeremy Fitzsimons (marimba)
      John Psathas (electronics)
         Commissioned by Jeremy Fitzsimons
         with support from Creative New Zealand
         and Chamber Music New Zealand

   Psyzygysm  (17:54)
      Pedro Carneiro (vibraphone, marimba)
      Stroma - conducted by Hamish McKeich
          Mark Carter (trumpet)
          Bridget Douglas (flute)
          Patrick Barry (clarinet)
          Robert Weeks (bassoon)
          Su Yi (harp)
          Vessa-Matti Leppanen (violin)
          Rebecca Struthers (violin 2)
          Andrew Thomson (viola)
          Rowan Prior (cello)
      Jeremy Fitzsimons (marimba, orchestral percussion)
      Lance Philip (drum kit, djembe, conga)
      Nick Tipping (bass)
      Donald Nicolson (piano)
         Commissioned by Carla Van Zon for the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts
         and the OrchestrUtopica, Portugal
         with support from Creative New Zealand and the Hattori Foundation

      Psyzygysm is dedicated to David Crossan, my guardian techno-angel. - JP     

  One Summary Remix  (5:28)
      Tim Prebble (remixer)

   All music published by Promethean Editions




"The most extended work on the disc is Psyzgysm for solo percussionist and a mixed chamber ensemble. The outer sections of the work are often breathtakingly exciting, fusing virtuoso jazz with a Middle-Eastern melodic style. The phenomenal Pedro Carneiro as soloist describes the experience of playing Psyzygysm as 'like rushing downhill on a bike with no brakes'. Expertly engineered, edited and mixed by Steve Garden, this is another winner for the Rattle label. Anyone who’s enjoyed previous John Psathas albums is going to love this."

Pressing On, Radio New Zealand Concert, May 29, 2010



John Psathas is the most internationally performed of NZ composers. His 2006 album View from Olympus spent four weeks on top of the country's classical charts and he has won three Best Classical Album awards at the NZ Music Awards.
Ukiyo isn't really classical. Its four compositions plus one engineer's remix are percussion-based, featuring Portuguese marimba and vibraphone master Carneiro with Fitzsimmons, with the group Stroma (conductor Hamish McKeich), and electronic sound wizardry.
There are plenty of thumps of explosive energy as well as some moody passages in a blending of rhythm, jazz and Eastern melody. Title work derives from the transient floating world (ukiyo) of Buddhism. Great engineering, but no booklet.
Highlight: longest piece Psyzygysm has big musical forces in feverish rush.
Geoff Adams, Otago Daily Times