Two Tides

Two Tides

The Chris Mason-Battley Group

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Chris Mason-Battley (saxophones)
Graeme Webb (guitars)
David Lines (piano)
Sam Giles (bass)
Steve Garden (drums)
and special guest, Richard Nunns (taonga püoro)

Remastered Edition

Two Tides brings together two distinct musical sensibilities and explores their similarities and differences through improvisation: Mäori instrumentation and European jazz forge new paths within the evolving musical landscape of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

From intimate conversations between koauau and saxophone to dynamic, emotive group improvisations – this is a journey for performer and audience alike, exploring new territory in the dialogue between Mäori and European art forms.

For some time we have been experimenting with collective improvisation as an approach to composition,” Chris Mason-Battley says. “We have also been interested in exploring the territory between the two worlds of taonga püoro and European jazz. Two Tides is the result of collaboration between the band and Richard Nunns in early 2005 and the process of recording and subsequently shaping this material has resulted in an album which could not have been written by traditional compositional methods. Now, at the end of the project, the pieces still speak to us and suggest new directions.


RAT-D012 (February, 2006)

Production: The Chris Mason-Battley Group
Recording: Steve Garden

Tairua  (10.54)
Tahuna Caravan Park  (6.47)
Two Worlds Suite:
   Okareka  (4.08)
   Gone  (6.59)
   Two Worlds, Three Voices  (6.03)
Lidya  (5.38)
Te Henga  (9.25)
The Ninth Bell  (5.21)

Not many CDs move you to tears one instant and make you dance the next. Not genre-crossing or genre-making, this is unlike any other album I’ve heard. There’s a deep beauty here, haunting and dark. The group plays and listens with a rare sensitivity and concentration. Even when the mood is understated, there's no loss of passion. The dialogue between Richard Nunns and Chris Mason-Battley imbues the disc with a timelessness and restrained intensity not found elsewhere. This is yet another New Zealand musical treasure from Rattle.”
- John Psathas

The opening of this album is quite arresting: soprano sax, an ambient soundscape, taonga puoro and voices, a murmur that might or might not be te reo (maori language). Then a sudden drop into a gentle medium-tempo fusion beat - a hint of things to come on an album that largely succeeds in that difficult game, the combination of traditional instruments (in this instance, Mäori) with contemporary forms, performance and technology. The keys to success here are the lightness and openness of the sound, equality of space given to improvisation on both traditional and modern instruments, and the subsuming of solo work to a collective sound. There are only a few moments where Nunns' acoustic instruments come close to being relegated to an ambient role in what is still essentially a contemporary form of music making. Particularly striking is the Two Worlds Suite, where a two-way conversation between Mason-Battley and Nunns develops seamlessly into a more fiery group improvisation and then resolves into a peaceful percussion-supported dialogue. Not quite world music, not quite te reo, not quite free improvisation, this album of collectively-developed moody, Aotearoa-flavoured pieces is a successful experiment that suggests there is more to come.”
- Bruce Morley, New Zealand Musician Magazine, August 2006

It was invigorating to hear such an innovative performance. The audience, inspired to listen from a new perspective, was witness to that marvellous musical alchemy in which the result was much more than a simple sum of the parts.”
- Stephen Gibbs SOUNZ (Centre for New Zealand Music)