Friday, 13 November 2009

Chris Knox Collection from NZ On Screen

NZ On Screen  reports today they have launched a collection of Chris Knox music videos to support the release of the New Zealand music legend’s tribute album Stroke - the Songs of Chris Knox.
The 32-track double album features covers of Knox songs by local and off-island indie music luminaries and is due out on Monday (November 16th). There will be a benefit gig in Auckland on Friday next week (November 20th). Proceeds will go towards Knox’s rehabilitation from the stroke he suffered in June of this year.
Project Director Brenda Leeuwenberg says ' NZ On Screen wanted to support the promotion of the album and fundraising efforts, and showcase the incredible contribution Knox has made to NZ screen culture through his music and filmmaking'
The Chris Knox Collection is curated by Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd who says,  “this is a unique and important collection of work perfectly illustrating what is possible with the barest of resources and a free wheeling imagination.”

Roger Shepherd has written his own tribute to Chris Knox, as has Russell Brown. I give Shepherd's words below, RB is here.

"This is a wonderfully wilful, playful and experimental collection of film and video work. Mainly it consists of material built around music Chris has individually or collectively written, performed and recorded.
It shows us the early DIY experimentations with animation, and his keen experimentation with a number of different techniques. We see a developing mastery of the technology but never a dulling of the creative spirit.

This is a unique and important collection of work perfectly illustrating what is possible with the barest of resources and a free-wheeling imagination.

Chris Knox made his first music clips for the Tall Dwarfs and was greatly influenced by the likes of Norman McLaren and Len Lye. Nothing's Going To Happen (1981), Turning Brown and Torn in Two (1983), Phil's Disease Day 1 (1984), Phil's Disease Day 4 (1984), and later The Slide (1988) were made with basic but differing animation techniques. A live-action horror movie inspired The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1984) which was also made during this time. Chris sees these early efforts as "cheaply made and amateur" but they all display wit, charm and invention.
Chris also made music videos for other bands, notably the simple, economically made Tally Ho! (1981) by The Clean; Wind Song (1984) by The Verlaines; as well as the more involved Caroline's Dream (1983) by Children's Hour.

The process of making these short films and the associated learning experiences resulted in a steady technical improvement over this time. This is well illustrated with the Tall Dwarfs' Fork Songs (1991) collection of videos. Four different songs, 'Two Humans', 'Wings', 'Oatmeal' and 'Lowlands' were made with a NZ on Air music video grant. The result is a unique and varied collection of animated films.

With Chris starting to release solo material in the late 1980s much of the associated film or video material became more direct and "singing to camera" orientated, involving the artist and others miming to the songs in a variety of situations. This perspective was memorably seen in Not Given Lightly (1989), Get A Life (1993) and Inside Story (1993). Animations such as Face of Fashion (1989) and Joy of Sex (1997) were still being made and Chris's long time partner Barbara Ward also became more involved in helping with the work.
Barbara animated the entire film for My Dumb Luck (1989) and with Chris made the animated Half Man, Half Mole (1995) and One Fell Swoop (1985) films. Her body is featured as the "screen" for projected material in My Only Friend (2000).

Tall Dwarfs work continued with a collection of different ideas and material for the Stumpy EPK (1996) and video was first used for Fragile and Gluey Gluey (both 1998). These featured mimed performances in front of a gleefully utilised blue screen across which a variety of images were projected.

Chris continued to make music and videos with and for his band Chris Knox and the Nothing, namely Cordeoline (2005) and Queer (2006). They had not-long released their second album, A Warm Gun, when Knox suffered a stroke on Thursday morning, June 11th 2009, at his home in Grey Lynn.

A tribute album, Stroke - the Songs of Chris Knox, has been recorded and is due to be released late November 2009. The 32-track double album features covers of Knox songs by local and off-island indie music luminaries. Proceeds will go towards Chris’s rehabilitation. Watch the collection and listen to the legacy. A true original...."

See On Screen, here


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