I think it must be living on one of two relatively small islands in the middle of a vast ocean that produces a special kind of quirkiness and fertile ground for artistic expression outside the norm. Macombee & The Absolute Truth are inhabitants of their own unique reality. Their music is grand and theatrical, with equal parts horn-driven spy movie soundtrack and pretty orchestral piano balladry. It all centers around band leader Sarah Macombee’s Broadway musical vocals. There’s the delightfully adrift and off-kilter “Floatsam and Jetsam” and the expansive (and well-named) “Epic.” Quieter contemplations such as the very sweet “Limbo” and the choral celebration of “Ripples” (that includes her vocal students) give way to full-on productions like “No Man’s Land” and “The Absolute Truth” (which begins and ends this ambitious debut release). Their first release? really??
Originally from England, the Macombees (technically the McCombies) emigrated to New Zealand, and Sarah has been singing in choirs and in bands for many years. Macombee & The Absolute Truth features several Macombee family members and their friends. Up to a dozen or so people were involved in the production of No Man’s Land. It was an album that took 5 or 6 years to make, through trials and tribulations that included a relapse of MS for their bandleader and the unexpected passing of their first producer, Ben Stockwell. All this only added to their determination, which perhaps is what explains the tremendous confidence and polish of this intriguing album. You can hear them discuss the coming together of the band and the making of the album, in addition to three songs performed live, on Radio New Zealand.
My personal favorite is the first single, “Floatsam and Jetsam,” and the quirky video of a pleasant little tea party that goes awry. It was filmed and directed by Immi Paterson-Harkness, edited by Darryn Paterson-Harkness, and features a truly wonderful performance by actor David Thiele. For me, this perfectly captures the amazingly inventive and slightly crazy and surreal Kiwi personality. I look forward to having the Macombees on our shores one day soon.
Upcoming New Zealand Shows
1/23 – Lucha Lounge, York Street, Newmarket
2/13 – Hauraki House Theatre, Coromandel Town (vocal workshop and show)
2/14 – Kauaeranga Hall, Coromandel (vocal workshop and show)
3/29 – Titirangi Festival of Music, Titirangi Theatre, Lopdell House (vocal workshop and show)
For more information, see their site.