[video of the week] Maxine Funke – Call On You

Taken from the album “River Said”, out 28th April 2023 via Disciples.

The new album by Maxine Funke divides into two halves – the first side a perfect suite of the kind of beautifully constructed songs that the New Zealand based artist has become known for, acutely observed vignettes framing her voice with a minimal backing of guitar and organ. The second side takes off on a different flight entirely: two dreamy long-form pieces built on a framework of cello, field recordings and delay, closer to Arthur Russell or the music on Eno’s Obscure label than the more folky references that often get applied to Maxine’s music.

New Zealand’s Maxine Funke is an Internet-shy, folk-inspired singer/songwriter whose hushed, enigmatic, lo-fi acoustic analog recordings draws comparison to work by Vashti Bunyan and Sibylle Baier. After brief tenures on electric guitar alongside her drumming stepfather, Mike Dooley, in comparatively louder early-2000s outfits — the Beaters, Snapper, and the Snares — she met and became the partner of Alastair Galbraith, an experimental musician and ex-frontman of ’80s Flying Nun act The Rip. Alongside Galbraith and Dooley, Funke went on to play cello in the improvisational Hundred Dollar Band — as captured on 2006’s Waves & Particles — before compiling stray acoustic solo recordings from the era such as 2008’s ‘Lace’. 2012’s ‘Felt’ followed, and on 2018’s ‘Silk’ she interspersed her songs with wonky retro-electronic instrumental pieces. On 2021’s ‘Séance’, Funke introduced further experimentation, this time as part of her core compositions, simultaneously making one of her most accessible records to date.

Raised on a tiny island north of the mainland of New Zealand, Funke was inspired by her sister’s guitar lessons, and when she was eight years old, the family moved south to Dunedin. As she grew up, the livelier location provided opportunities to attend live gigs, and Funke simultaneously immersed herself in Dooley’s prized record collection. Before long, the pair were performing in local venues as a duo named the Beaters. An ill-fated festival appearance in 2000, as part of Peter Gutteridge’s Snapper, combined with two releases fronting the indie rock trio the Snares (2002’s ‘Something Happened on the Way to Heaven’ and 2003’s ‘Dance the Dervish’) left Funke pining to make quieter music.

Recordings made both on a four-track cassette recorder and in Galbraith’s home studio between 2004 and 2008 were eventually collected to form her solo debut, ‘Lace’, which was issued on Galbraith’s Next Best Way label. Epic Sweep then released a low-run single, 2011’s ‘Oranges in the Oaks’, and Funke’s fully formed sophomore album, 2012’s ‘Felt’. Within a few years, Funke relocated to the country, and in 2016, she uncharacteristically started uploading online videos of home-recorded, gently fingerpicked solo acoustic performances to showcase her compositions of the time. A job as a teaching assistant then gave her the opportunity to fine-tune her guitar technique and vocals, performing soft, stripped-back acoustic covers to small classes of attentive children.

2018 brought a flurry of release activity – a single and the EPs ‘Eternity’ and ‘Home Fi’ – culminating in December’s ‘Silk’ on the U.S. label Feeding Tube. A quiet three-year period for Funke followed, but she returned in early 2021 with two further EPs – ‘QuaranTunes Series No.14: Maitland St 2020’ and ‘Forest Photographer’ – both in conjunction with the mysterious P Wits. For her fourth album, July 2021’s ‘Séance’, Funke’s delivery was as understated as ever, but the record enjoyed far wider distribution than any of her releases to that point. In September, she contributed ‘Equinox’ to Mexican Summer’s Looking Glass singles series.




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