Music Review

Waiuku College Music Presents: Our Sound Volume 1



This collection of songs from students at Waiuku College is an example of a new sensibility in music education, motivated by perceptions of industry realities and recognising the strengths and influences of the students themselves. At its best, this makes for an exciting situation where fresh musical energy and ideas grab hold of traditional knowledge benefiting both. Be prepared for variations in terms of genre, something that should not really be a problem to an interested listener, but certainly not what a modern consumer might be conditioned to expect in terms of stylistic unity.

The consequence of having a range of styles, is that at times the musical influences are really quite clearly worn on many sleeves. Lyrical concerns are also perhaps an area that can reflect a somewhat narrow focus, but there’s no denying the melodic strengths, intelligent arrangements, and creativity that is on display here. The music in this collection is consistently strong, and frequently a great deal more than that. Track after track stand out, because they either push the boundaries of what the sound and instruments imply, or they embrace a genre and completely own it. There’s no denying the technical and musical delivery of the songs. Right from the opening track, there is a real sense of purpose that is very compelling.

Possibly the strongest thing that stands out in this collection is a profoundly musical sensibility - there is wry wit, an awareness of how to make a chorus soar, and plainly here is a bunch of musicians who have found their individual voices. Ben Ruegg, the Head of Music at Waiuku college, deserves special mention for this alone - notwithstanding his organisation and production work. This is the result of top-notch music education.

Singling out individual tracks would be unwise, the risk of unfair comparisons and an ‘apples/oranges’ situation is too great. Suffice it to say that the influences of some of the great New Zealand female singers are strongly represented, as are some classic exponents of pop-punk, and Knights of Cydonia - mode Muse, among a lot else. Every flavour tastes real.

There could be a lot of careers beginning here. This collection is a really rewarding listen. Highly recommended.

Review by Trevor Faville