Zealandia

by Dudley Benson

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1.
Papa 06:44
Who are you? Where is my mountain? A whisper, a song in the silence You awaken me with your voice Scary and lovely, you say "E tu" With your hand on my beating chest Weightless, you take me into your arms An assembly of strength, love, light With me on your back, and you on the wind Together we fly up into Australis’ eye You know what you’re doing as you intonate, the cloud unrolls before your arms Now, I see how you broke up With your boyfriend all those years ago Papa! You point to the coastline where, as a girl You were taken from your mother’s arms Ripped apart A violence we feed with The blood of our colony And quest to deliver kindly domination Underground aquifer overflowing We are the soldiers of Kiwa’s army This union of islands, I get it now You hid them from a drying world “Ancient? What’s that mean?” You smiled at me As we dropped into Hawaiki “This is where you get off – Good luck to you when you meet Hine” And I say: “Hine, open yourself up! I’m ready to enter the vulva again” Papa, I got this I know you’re tired, let me give you a hand Papa, I’ll spot you Come over here, hop on my piggyback Papa, I feel you Tonight you will be the belle of the ball Papa, I’m ready To be yours to offer myself Papa, we’re waiting With our baskets already full Papa, we promise We will keep your fire alive
2.
You got your - and I got my - versions of The ones who came before us They are here in the continent of mystery From the stories they gave to us We’re making up a history But don’t lock it down Until we’ve had the conversation From the North Kupe made Staked his claim upon the terra nullius Fireworks, pohutakawa in December Then the great fleet came like a tidal wave They were following the star map To the land of obsidian and argillite This is the birth of a nation It’s time to start again Give us a fishhook And I’ll give you a real big star If we forget what we learnt And we know what we lost Can we decolonize ourselves? This is the birth of a nation Before we, there was them Patupaiarehe of the forest In the mist and dark they met Under a parliament of bat and bird And did you hear of the redheads And their message in the cave wall? Is it true, or you just lookin’ for excuses? Un-name the mountain De-chart these waters Come below deck to the captain’s quarters I gonna jack up a deal I’m gonna give you a chance If you just gimme your trust Gonna make you forget everything you know, like I do Just offer me who you are Baby I’ll ease you in, no need to fight Just put your head on the pillow
3.
Muscles 04:20
I know you feel like an old man Weakened by the hand unseen Its grip is tight around your throat You cannot breathe, you cannot scream But there is a grace When you’re on your knees You call his name, and save your life! “Kiwi!” Speak to him Ask him how to use your muscles “Kiwi!” It’s easy You will gain the power you’re missing To save your life You did nothing wrong And you don’t deserve this I can’t comfort you Other than to say: I know sometimes you feel like Nothing more than a link in a chain Rusted to a tanker lost out of harbour Steered by a madness you don’t understand I know that you think you’re done And they’ve won This is when you honour the seed Sown into you by your mother Deliver the blow The crown was made to fit your head “Kiwi!” Speak to him Ask him how to use your muscles “Kiwi!” It’s easy You will gain the power To save your life “Kiwi!” Amazing How you’ve learnt to flex those muscles “Kiwi!” Get ready to be all you are And save your life
4.
Cook, you look sick You look green As green as the ocean that you rode here on Is dark and deep Cook, you feel dirty don’t you? As dirty as the seeds of Neo-Europe That you carry in your purse, darling Cook, you are somewhat of a player Playing both your patrons and The phantoms of the Antipodes But Cook, can you as the magus Curry the favour of the world As she rolls, falls, cracks and breaks? High above it all Venus is weeping in transit While against the clockless years She turns her back and begins a countdown There’s a call heard across the waves An echo received by the silk of the glowworm Aeons of fossils begin their march Lamenting the ink of a new world order Cook, you look sick You look green As green as the ocean that you rode here on Is dark and deep Cook, you feel guilty don’t you? As guilty as the dog they hung upon the mast As an envoy of their mutiny But now the mana that you had Is dripping off your jaw Like a well-cooked cut of rotten meat And there, between the gristle and bone Is the promise of a continent of Industry, in-breds and injoking But with the great big map we made In our own special colouring contest You know we’re heading for the edge And for the fall that will swallow our babies Now that the gloss has all but gone And we’re not pulling tricks like we used to Why are we stuck in the middle of this nowhere As the clouds form around our heads? Patiently standing at our side Our friends with the taiaha are waiting in limbo We wonder why the sundial is reading night But fear in our hearts Victoria’s shadow Is it an island?
5.
We could’ve been gods But we fucked it up I’ve been your lover now For a while To be inside you is to feel A power that I hope will grow But as we’re getting deeper in I’m tripping on the scars you have And I’m worried I’m not your man Sometimes you are so beautiful You make me want to sing But there’s a sadness in your beauty, too A pearl within a rubbish bin I get lost in your pheromone (Put our ears to the ground) Batten down the hatches, boys And don’t forget to cheerio Your Barbie and Ken Screwing my flow We gonna watch ‘em swim In the flood that’s coming Yeah, maybe we are romantics Maybe they’re all pessimists You say there’s activism in each of us We just got to engage with it Oh it is a harness to your power (Put our ears to the ground) I wanna feel you crushing me With your hug Say farewell to the light Welcome back Io Let her do her thing The tide’s calling us again We’re all boat people in the end We could’ve been gods
6.
Matariki 06:01
Beyond the Pleiades and Aries On a night in June I search for someone I remember With the help of a waxing moon Hidden between constellations A horse wild and free is dancing Kaimanawa of the evening And mother to me I can talk to her She responds with light And I learn Just because they’re not here Doesn’t mean they’re not here Just because they’re not here No, it doesn’t mean anything Bouncing between stellar bodies The message is carved in the sky Written for you and you only Interpreted by your DNA It’s a korero from your forebears Who have been here before They’ve done it before They’ve seen this before And you can talk to them They will respond with light And you will learn Do you feel it? Can you sense it coming? The iceberg rose Blooming in the black night Just breathe in the scent Let it enter your lungs It will perfume your blood This is real and it cannot be denied ‘Cos I am your ancestor And this is your constellation It doesn’t mean anything! You know that it’s not true!
7.
Rutu 05:45
Oh I was looking out of a window Out of a window onto a land Of blue hills sleeping White mountains keeping The ice from creeping over the plains I saw a tree there without its leaves on Without its leaves on like a skeleton But birds were in it, and I could hear them Oh I could hear them calling for Spring to come and bring blossom Sun to come and melt snow into a stream Dry the soaking pinecones That rolled away last year Tell the wind he needs to warm up Ask the grass if she would grow extra long This is what I heard that day Hidden in beautiful birdsong As I was looking out of that window I was so surprised to see it all change The land was sinking Those mountains shrinking The ocean drinking them in his arms The bluest blanket of the Pacific Was warming himself under the sun And from that stillness of tropic beauty Emerged a woman born of that sun With skin of brownest goodness Hair of honey gifted from the bees’ hive Eyes that watch the growth grow So musical, fertile Offering a water lily “Ko ahau Rutu”, she said “I am here to help you make into life What was dead” “I know you hurt; I will heal you I know you grieve; I will heal you You only need to look to me You only need to come to me My nature is An elixir A fixer A bandage A suture A serum A vaccine A vitamin A remedy With the charm of a talisman The tākuta The tohunga The healer They’re all for you! You only need to walk through me I will clear your mind You only need to swim in me I will clear your skin You only need to drink me I will nourish you You only need to breathe me  I will give you life I am yours You are mine I am yours You are we”
8.
Solo 05:46
Should I make an apology? When I didn’t do it, they did! Some other century The wars are over The land has all been carved A glorious painting No, it’s definitely not a fake Should I write up a history? Give me your scribble, maybe Make you a VIP Shame about the language There’s always a casualty I got my sweet potato But she ain’t home so let’s get down to it Not gonna stop doing what I love When everything I say and touch It turns to sold I’m keeping the books, babe And the books be keeping you Every man for himself, mate Oh it’s a beautiful view when you’re at the top Every inch of pain is ours But that’s how it works It’s how we get our energy We have these bones to light the way If you wanna believe in it baby Though I always knew that I’d do this Is it something that we gotta go through Solo? Should I make up a policy? We’re all holding hands, running Through the garish green To every questionGotta answer “We’re all one!” It’s a mantra we’ll use Throughout our whole lives So should I lay this feather before me? Or should I wipe off this brown face With the genes of a dairy kingdom? We got ice cream on a leash See the mono-hobbits Drowning slowly in the melting pot Oh they can build their Empire Yeah time will tear it down And it might be the hardest thing that we ever do
9.
Opo 05:52
His name was Opo He was my summer Opo He was the breeze in my hair I don’t know that we’ll ever meet again It was me and him, Opo I remember the year I had bled for the first time And after school I would meet him Where the sand dropped away to water so blue We would talk forever And I’d tell him The things that no one knew Just as my life was to start He changed what I thought that it could even be I don’t care what they said about our love It was me and him, Opo No I don’t know that I’ll ever feel again The love I felt back then for Opo Sometimes at night I hear his voice Singing in water time Opo Opo He was my greatest Opo He was the wound in my heart I remember the day That I came to find him, my love of sea And though the water was warm An undertow of cold met me there in his place Dad said that I’d get better, make new friends But I withdrew into myself Like the salt of that summer Our love had gone, returned to the sea *Threnody for the oceans* I don’t care what they said about our love It was me and him Opo (Don’t leave me here!) Oh I don’t believe that we’ll ever meet again But until then, I will remember him Opo
10.
I wanna take you to a place I know you’d like It’s on the harbour, the wind is nice There’s a view of the islands And when the tide is out You can gather a good kai Have you ever seen a sky so wide It makes you feel right here in this moment? They say that if you come here When the weather’s right An archway will appear A lens made of cloud, can you see it? There! I am the girl that will break through the bell jar She is the boy that waits for the right moment I know you’d love the summer here The endless light The powder of gold that runs through The subterranean river that’s connecting us Your helix to mine A stock to prepare for the winter When we retreat we hibernate And dream of the sun like an old postcard But then the Earth begins to thaw Lupin, show your heart! A mirror, a memory, a feeling So what do you think of me Now I’m a man And I got a man of my own? You know that this is the life that I lead It’s your legacy We continue the story of you and me I don’t get so caught up In fighting with ghosts now But for a time they were familiar friends And though the hand on my shoulder Is sometimes still there She knows she’s free to go Tragedy Is not listening to your stomach Sadness Comes when you don’t follow your feet The worst thing you can do Is put up with it Many have drowned In the depths of silence
11.
Séance 02:13
Upland moa Crested moa South Island giant moa Heavy-footed moa Scarlett’s shearwater North Island goose New Zealand stiff-tailed duck New Zealand musk duck Finsch’s duck Brown goshawk Forbes’ harrier Haast’s eagle Southern merganser Moho Norfolk Island ground dove Whēkau laughing owl New Zealand owlet nightjar South Island piopio South Island kokako New Zealand raven Moho Chatham Island raven Snipe-rail Chatham Island coot Tutukiwi South Island snipe Finsch’s duck Scarlett’s duck Norfolk Island kaka Matuhi bush wren Haast’s eagle Huia Grey-headed blackbird! Hodgens’ waterhen! I call upon you now To appear before us once again I see your flicker in the candle What do you want to tell me?
12.
Zealandia 09:00
If I reach out and touch a line Will your heart give a rhythm That’s also mine? Is there a language I can learn To understand you? I thought I felt you moving in the moonlight Why do you hide when I come near? If I dive into the mountain side Will you show me the pattern Of the main divide? Is there a reason for the shadow That you cast over my eyes? I thought I heard you crying in the forest What do your mourn under the Taurean sky? Zealandia I love you You and me are One and the same, part of a whole I feel your breath inside of me But when the time comes I’ll return it gratefully Oh will you hear me when I call you At the midnight of my life? You’ll take my body into yours And feed from it With a blood-ribbon you pull me home With my hand upon my heart I give you so freely My pledge to honour and protect you Always

about

Dudley Benson's third album, Zealandia is an identity-pop record, a love album to the land, and twelve alternatives to the New Zealand national anthem.

"Extraordinary." - Clash Magazine
"An arresting epic." ★★★★ - George Fenwick, NZ Herald
"Records this rich don't come along very often." - Nick Bollinger, Radio New Zealand
"A masterful piece of musical story-telling and inquiry." ★★★★★ - Tom McKinlay, Otago Daily Times
"Dudley Benson is a caster of spells and a weaver of dreams. One of the best and most persuasive that we have." - William Dart, Radio New Zealand

credits

released August 10, 2018

Watch the music videos:
Zealandia: youtu.be/mWlwKvOdzXM
Cook Beleaguered: youtu.be/2LrkmzrhFpY
Matariki: youtu.be/ulG-lSjU5iw
We Could've Been Gods: youtu.be/iBaGBO9K6l0
Rutu: youtu.be/Rf5o6kSnZ3I
Muscles: youtu.be/P5LsNk7B2gU

Written, produced & mixed by Dudley
Arranged by Dudley & Andrew Baldwin
Beats programmed by Dudley
Orchestral & choral transcriptions by Andrew Baldwin
Recorded by Andre Upston, Lee Prebble, Mike Gibson & Dudley
Orchestra mixed by Andre Upston

Mastered by Martin Korth, Black Saloon Studios, London

Cover photograph by Louise Clifton, assisted by Patrick Roberts, with composite artwork by Matthew Galloway

Design by Matthew Galloway

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Dudley Benson Dunedin, New Zealand

I'm a queer independent artist based in Dunedin, New Zealand. I make music about nature and nationhood. Thanks for listening!

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