Michael Canning ‎– 21st Century Water

Ghostjogger ‎– GJ04
CD, Album



Debut album. Recorded between 1990 and 1998.

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  • Barcode: 5035614010270


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January 13, 2009
edited over 8 years ago

This is the debut solo album of Michael Canning released in the UK in 1998 and internationally in 1999. Canning hails from New Zealand although this record was released after he relocated to the UK in the mid 1990's. It is an intriguing and eclectic 10 track record which is more like a journey in sounds, textures and moods than a simple collection of songs.

It is an intense listen with its melange of radio-friendly songs melding into distinctly radio-unfriendly sound collages. The album features a collective of different drummers and special guests i.e. trombonist Hilary Jeffrey. Chronologically it spans recordings from 4 track sessions in Auckland in 1990 to larger studios in Sheffield in 1998.

It takes off with the sound of a train leading into "Poolside" - a frenetic percussion laden song ending with a Pebbles like garage guitar frenzy with the last track a hidden one consisting solely of what sounds like the inside of a church being dismantled with a heavy implement. Other songs are guitar driven industrial type records which bring to mind 70's Lou Reed although also possibly a Flying Nun influence a la the Gordons. A wry sense of humour is employed on "Keith Richards trip to Invercargill" which is a melodic yet slightly bent singalong to the Rolling Stones legendary experiences in New Zealand in 1966 that reminds you of Beck - or perhaps even late 60's Bowie.

Canning's connection with the New Zealand avant garde scene of the early 90's is clear and such tracks as "Littoral" and "Mawhera" (which utilises the calls of near extinct native NZ birds like the kiwi) are akin to rank other artists like Marcel Bear, Michael Morley and Thela. A comparison to Chrome also seems apt in parts, as well as a connection to free jazz - as is illustrated in "Cigars".

While the lyrics, a mixture of singing and spoken word, remain somewhat opaque overall, it is clear that the entire album is a substantial and acid critique on post modernism and the increasing degradation of the world's ecology at human hands. Despite its dark introspective feel it certainly has its up moments - like any good trip - with one being the trance like outro piece, which was recorded in Turkey in 1996. This is a record made by someone who is clearly interested in harmonics and ghost frequencies. All contributing to make this an album with parts to slip into the mix of your favourite deep house - if you dare.