NZ Artist Sam Bambery Releases Sophomore Album ‘Rubricator’

Published: Fri 17 May 2024 06:29 PM
“Rubricator'' the highly anticipated sophomore album from Ōtautahi/Christchurch artist SAM BAMBERY releases today May 17.
“Rubricator'' releases after two years of considered studio work and tours across the motu. Bambery shares “this album felt like an ecstatic jigsaw, pieces coming together in spontaneous takes whilst also holding songs and feelings tightly to our chest. It felt like present music at the time, dominated by process, nothing to do with the past or the future. It was a therapeutic escape at a time where I felt a bit lost as to what direction I should take my songs.”
This 10 track album features hit singles ‘Parasite’, ‘The Burnout’ and most recently ‘24.01’ alongside stunning new tracks ‘Life in Tandem’, ‘Spring’, ‘Tricks of Light’ and lead track ‘Doctor’.
Bambery was hands-on with every creative aspect of the album, everything from screen printing of vinyl jackets, to manipulating a roll of Super 8 for a music video. “It gives me great pride to be able to say I did a lot of things for the release of this album. There’s a lot of people before me like Chris Knox or Elliot Smith that pursued these things and they are awfully inspiring to me.”
“Rubricator'' was recorded in houses, old photography studios and lounge rooms across Aotearoa/New Zealand. Bambery’s curiosity for a DIY approach extends into his sound. Listen closely and you can hear experimental sounds of a hot sauce bottle, a broken drum kit recorded with a lot of reverb, vibraphone (the vibrato function was broken so it vibrated via shoestring on the valves), Sony Microcassette recorder (tape manipulated in post) and intercom feature on the album, alongside drums, congas, tambourine, electric, acoustic and baritone guitars, Yamaha organ, korg minilogue synth, lap steel and kalimba.
“I have the great privilege of having close friends that have either amazing music gear or unbridled creativity within them. Or both. We felt free and playful with all the sounds we had available but also there wasn’t any hesitation. True surrender to whatever sounded good.”
Bambery and Under Underground Records label manager Hannah Everingham are at the helm of a fresh creative community in Ōtautahi / Christchurch, where DIY approaches are like a sort of indie baptism. For Bambery, DIY became a way of expressing new ideas and exploring new identities. “I went from recording with De Stevens on a shady landing in a Grey Lynn flat to spilling out over guitars and synths on the floor of a former photography studio-gone-music studio helmed by Thomas Isbister. Each occurrence making new stitches in Rubricator’s seams” shares Bambery.
Collaboration and community is at the heart of this album. De Stevens (Marlin’s Dreaming, Asta Rangu) co-produced the album alongside Bambery, “working with De Stevens in a co-producer role is like working with a stoic magician” says Bambery. “I distinctly remember kneeling on the floor after a day of intense recording, trying to get inside my body again. And there he is, still tracking and listening to what we need to add. I think people will look back in a few years and really marvel at the type of work De puts into the work of Aotearoa-based musicians.”
Ryan Fisherman and Thomas Isbister (Engineering) Mackenzie Hollebon (Juno Is) on backing vocals, and songwriter Hannah Everingham on single 24.01 all contributed to the album too.
“There’s nothing like capturing a certain time or place in your life with a piece of art shared amongst friends” says Bambery.
“From the beginning the process for this album was deeply collaborative. It felt reminiscent of the long-standing kaupapa within my band for the previous years, a potluck of personalities leaving delightful imprints all over. We were on the same page, the whole group of us recording. Although I didn’t have any expectations on what the page should have on it.”
“Rubricator” is an indie-rock record through and through, but is conscious of its own existence. Microcassette recordings and intercom static weaved through the album make it feel as though it’s talking to itself. Jokes, French alphabetisation and self-deprecating humour all have their place. This personal touch feels like an encounter with Bambery’s psyche that leads us through his diverse songwriting palette.
The title “Rubricator” references the maker of rubrics. Bambery explains “The scribe who wrote in red in every medieval text; signifying the rapid change of theme, setting or nuanced articulation across the page. It is named as such because I feel this collection of songs is a change in the way I make music after 2 years of writing and playing in the country-folk vein.”
Bambery’s 2022 debut "Songs About Sailors" saw him riding a tide of emotionally fraught alt-country, yet, on “Rubricator”, although Bambery’s warped folk tendencies persist, the arrangements breathe more freely.
Lead track “Doctor” stretches Bambery's palette into a space where gentle electric-folk buzz meets elongated psychedelia, ensnaring his existential and romantic lyricism tightly. The track features jazz-like vibraphone, weighty guitar lines and plenty of percussion echoing the influence of Stereolab. “24.01” leads the listener towards tight indie pop then diverting to lush piano work. The pitched-vocal opening of “Parasite” will remind 90’s indie kids of the irreverence of Pavement’s Silence Kid. The distinctive drums on “Tricks of Light” recontextualise classic trip-hop inclinations. “The Burnout” surf-psychedelia situates itself in classic Aotearoa pop-rock. Bambery reminds us that we live in a postmodern world where nothing is truly new, just our individual expression.
“Rubricator” releases in New Zealand Music Month “the standard of music in Aotearoa is just so high and we should all really celebrate and amplify that” enthuses Bambery. “For me it’s less about releasing in an auspicious month for NZ music and more about being part of this great community. I’m a huge fan of the music that gets made here.”
Sam Bambery will play a Rubricator Album Release Show with Jobs, Holly Kimber, Craigslist Soundsystem (DJ set) on Friday 7th June at Space Academy, Christchurch. Tickets are available from Under The Radar.
“Rubricator” releases May 17 and is available on all streaming platforms + Limited Edition 12" Vinyl - Translucent Red available via bandcamp

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