It’s no secret that NZ’s resident pop song-book connoisseur Lawrence Arabia has a penchant for penning earworms at once inspired and unsettling. His 2009 single Apple Pie Bed took out the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll, positioning Mr Arabia (real name James Milne) in the great Kiwi song hall of fame.
Fast forward a few years and the enigmatic chanteur is back, on the cusp of releasing his fourth solo album. Milne’s songwriting has reached a commanding new level of skill and control in the years following Chant Darling; 2012’s The Sparrow was a sparse, dark affair stripped back its essentials - stark imagery and unflappable hooks. Following The Sparrow came the birth of Milne’s first child, meaning that the songs to follow were written amidst “hazy post-partum exhaustion”, in Milne’s own words. “It wasn't a time for self-indulgence or misery. Even the tiniest free moment of reflection felt like a blessing.”
The result is Arabia’s strongest yet - aptly named Absolute Truth.
The album’s debut single ‘A Lake’ is at once personal and abstract; its haunting melody ushered gracefully along by a 60’s groove and four-on-the-floor stomps. The Line Of Best Fit described it as "a confident, assured sound and the overall feeling that he's finally happened upon the sound that works for him… with tracks as strong as this, there's every chance that Lawrence Arabia’s new album will give him the worldwide recognition his music deserves.”
Today, Lawrence Arabia releases the video for ‘A Lake’. Entirely made by Milne and his partner Anns Taylor. Filmed out at Riverhead (the “much loved forest of trail runners and magic mushroom hunters”), the video follows Milne through his morning preparations (coffee, baked beans, a shave) before heading to the woods for a spooky group session of ritual magic. Like the song itself, the video seeks to look beneath the surface of the everyday. “I think the more regular a person's veneer, the deeper and more lurid their perversions”, explains Milne. “I'm quite drawn to the idea of Freemasonry and how the most seemingly upstanding, so-called "pillars of the community" types are engaging in all kinds of esoteric traditions behind closed doors. And I suppose I enjoy the additional incongruity between that and the self-effacing informality of New Zealanders on the whole.” The video’s exclusive, secluded vibe echoes the similarly reclusive, night-owl process of making the album, which was tracked entirely during dark hours at plastic moulding factory Gyro Plastics in the Hutt Valley. Mike Fabulous (Lord Echo, Fabulous/Arabia) co-produced the whole affair. “The street we recorded on is all heavy industry pretty much”, says Milne. “We weren't really allowed to make noise during work hours, so we'd work from mid afternoon till the early morning, while the suburb was totally deserted.”
Along with ‘A Lake’ comes the news that Lawrence Arabia is set to take Absolute Truth on tour with his full band around New Zealand in July. Performing at an array of charming venues around the country, be among the first to see Lawrence Arabia deliver his latest and greatest cluster of pop gems with the magic only he can muster. See below for full dates.
Lawrence Arabia ~ Absolute Truth NZ Album Release Tour
3 JULY - Oamaru - Grainstore Gallery
14 JULY - Queenstown - Sherwood
15 JULY - Dunedin - Maori Hill Coronation Hall
16 JULY - Christchurch - Blue Smoke
22 JULY - Napier - Cabana
23 JULY - Wellington - San Fran
29 JULY - Auckland - Crystal Palace