New Zealand’s Reb Fountain has a distinctive style that matches a folk sensibility with an indie punk swagger: music that is hard to define, is distinctive and powerful. Fountain has announced details of a new album ‘Iris’, out through the inimitable and iconic Flying Nun Records, on 1 October 2021, and she released a video for a new single, the thundering ‘Beastie’.
‘Beastie’ is filled with a seething and forceful power: a slow burning fuse that is atmospheric and melodic, increasing in intensity and heat. Sparse instrumentation serves to enhance Fountain’s celestial vocals that burn and smoulder – with a spoken word interlude. There is a knowing and studied tone with backing vocals a ghostly and distant echo. It really is quite a majestic and enigmatic track.
Not only is the music powerful, the themes Fountain deals with are profound and deeply personal with an universal application. At the heart is grief emanating from issues ranging from domestic violence, the massacre in Christchurch and injustice. Fountain says of the track:
In Beastie, I wanted to explore and disrupt tales and tropes that separate ‘others’ from our ‘selves’. It’s easy to relegate evils to the ‘shameful past’; harder to confront our own current inhumanity, especially if one’s identity comes with benefits or losses. I wanted my eyes open and to speak in solidarity with resistance . . . and to give folks a chance to join in chorus . . . for in the absence of resistance we are complicit — rather than revert to a destructive default, I want to make a conscious choice for equity, justice, community, and love.
Botham Jean had just been murdered in his own apartment, mass incarceration and systemic racism in the criminal justice system had me grief-stricken, the massacre of worshippers in Christchurch broke my heart, the All Blacks would win, the All Blacks would lose and male violence against women would hit an all time high — and amidst all this I heard this phrase ‘Is That Us’. It was less a question, more reaching for belonging; would we buy that? Can we call it ours? Do we like it? Is this who we want to be? Can we collectively agree this is us? I wanted to consider it all …If you say nothing, nothing at all, nothing comes to light.
The accompanying video is lushly coloured as we follow Fountain around a vast space: she moves lithely around, swings, entreats, cajoles through multi-coloured rooms and performs with her band. Fountain says of the video:
We got offered a beautiful space to film in called Everybody’s in inner city Auckland. Directed by Lola Fountain-Best with Jono Drew on DOP duties, Beastie also features my band Dave, Karin & Earl.
it’s a prowling, sinuous delight that perfectly matches the brooding tones of the track:
You can download/stream ‘Beastie’ here or through the link below, where you can also pre-order ‘Iris’:
Fountain was born in San Francisco and immigrated with her family from North America to Lyttelton — the quiet port town out of Christchurch that’s been fundamental to New Zealand’s alt-folk scene, raising artists like Marlon Williams, Aldous Harding, and Delaney Davidson.