“Henry Green” is the opening track of the forthcoming album “Henry Green and the Island of Tuliarts” by New Zealand based dream pop artist, John White. It is the fourth solo departure since 2000 for the Dunedin-based singer from his heavy popgaze bands Mëstar and the Blueness.
To listen to a John White album is to succumb to a dream world, both in terms of the fantastical themes and the ethereal textures he tends to work with. Under a soundbed of lush string arrangements and gently strummed guitars on the new album, White’s softly delivered and ever so sweet vocal harmonies beguile and at times thrill. Alternating with the exquisite chamber folk arrangements of the title track and others such as Batholemule Brixton and Noneoir, are more trad. influenced songs such as Whisky and Beer and Sally, the latter about the heartbreak and isolation of those sailing to New Zealand from the UK in the late 1800s. “Farewell Song” is written for a musician friend who passed away suddenly during the making of the album.
Several of the songs have a nautical theme, with characters overlapping in the stories. The story of Henry Green is about an imaginary island sinking into the rising ocean. The Tuliarts who have lived there peacefully for thousands of years are colonised by greedy pirates but ultimately saved by Henry. Another sailor who Henry Green later joined forces with, is Captain Sabotka, named after a young family member of John’s. The stories of Captain Sabotka came about as made up bed-time stories involving a magic wizard crab whose magic only works when Sabotka’s eyes are closed (a trick for getting him to sleep). Before each story, White would sing the theme song to introduce the story in the same notion as Postman Pat or Thomas the Tank Engine, resulting in the album version. Many other magical creatures appear on the album: banshees, lady elves and lexaloffles to name a few. It should come as no surprise that John also designs retro style video games and has a knack for inventing fantastical worlds and creatures.
“Henry Green” is featured as the current “single of the week” of the radio show L’Attimo Fuggente.