In 2017, whether you're a devoted pop fan, electronic music lover, big on indie rock, folk, rap, reggae, or noise music, chances are you probably listen to a little bit (or a lot of) music from New Zealand.

While New Zealand's Flying Nun and Xpressway Records scenes have long been staples for lo-fi, noise, and jangly indie rock fans, and Crowded House, OMC, Savage, Lorde (and Broods) have all had pop success in the northern hemisphere, in recent years, the likes of Aldous Harding, David Dallas, Nadia Reid, Marlon Williams, Tiny Ruins, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra have all been cutting their own paths through the international worlds of music as well.

As we well and truly cross 2017's halfway mark, here is a quick recap of a few recent, notable, and under the radar releases from a mixture of New Zealand techno, beats, alt RnB, lo-fi, and rap acts including Borrowed CS, christoph el' truento, Estère, Repulsive Woman, and Team Dynamite.


Borrowed CS - B.C.$. EP

Borrowed CS

Cory Champion aka Borrowed CS learned his chops by studying at a local jazz school and drumming in various combos around Wellington. Jazz is his entry point, and he's spent time playing with a mixture of New Zealand-based future soul, noise-rock, indie, and electronica acts including Electric Wire Hustle, The Shocking Pinks, Grayson Gilmour, and Pacific Heights. However, where his musical visions come into sharp focus is through his house and techno productions and DJ sets as Borrowed CS.

Since he kicked the project off in 2014, Cory has had releases through 3BS Records, Margins, and now Money $ex Records. With his B.C.$. EP, Cory constructs a set of rhythms firmly aimed at the dance floor, wrapping them up in squelchy 8-bit melodies, classic rave synths, and nostalgic chime tones. It's a strong showing from an artist who cites Actress, Theo Parrish, Jay Daniel and Terrence Dixon as key influences.

christoph el' truento - it's been ________ lately.

christoph el' truento

When we took a deep dive into cult New Zealand composer/producer christoph el'truento's catalog last year, he'd been devoting his energy towards making ambient music under his Foraging alias, and working towards an unnamed dub project. On July 26, the Auckland-based artist dropped a new beat tape on Bandcamp. Twenty-five cuts long, it's been ________ lately, recalls the Wonderful Noise releases beat sketches and sample collages that hang heavy over the early stages of his discography, but with a deeper level of vibrancy and nuance drawn from the more experimental/compositional work he's created in recent years.

A quiet thinker, who works at his own pace, and follows his heart, christoph started out making music as a teenager on a family MPC [sampling drum machine]. With a wealth of experience behind him, when he releases a project, it's inevitably always worth a listen or ten.

Estère - 'Pro Bono Techno Zone'


Over the last half decade, Wellington-based vocalist and producer Estère has been one of the quiet achievers of New Zealand's young music scene. Working in her bedroom with an MPC [sampling drum machine] and synths, she created some raw demos that led to her performing live around the country, and as far afield as Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa. Along the way, she's crafted a self-titled EP, a series of visually striking music videos, and been working towards a two-part album.

Estère's music often takes events from everyday life, and playfully dissolves them into a psychedelic space. Located within this zone, her new song 'Pro Bono Techno' zone is a meditation on not techno music, but our contemporary relationship with technology, social media and cyberspace. Paired with a typically strong visual, it's a propulsive number that sits within her fusion of indie, hip-hop, and electronica, and progresses her artistic narrative.

Repulsive Woman - 'Relief'

Repulsive Woman

Dunedin's Millie Lovelock first hit my radar through Astro Children, the shoegaze/alt-pop duo she shares with Isaac Hickey. In 2015, she began releasing lo-fi One Direction covers, an outgrowth of an interest in the relationship between the pop group and their fans that led her to make them the focus of her English Master's degree at Otago University. Millie recorded the covers as Repulsive Woman, an alias that pays homage to cult American writer Djuna Barnes' 1915 chapbook The Book of Repulsive Women: 8 Rhythms and 5 Drawings.

Now, she's using her Repulsive Woman alias for original songs, kicking off with 'Relief.' Built out of guitar, cello and voice, it's a delicate and detailed miniature delivered with the sweet pop optimism Mille tapped into with her One Direction covers, but a lyrical sentiment that ripples with lovesickness and the claustrophobia of a worried mind. Expect more from Millie soon.

Team Dynamite - 'Gossip'

Team Dynamite

Auckland's Team Dynamite has been one of the preeminent party rap acts in New Zealand for a few years now, but while their music generally hits with a fun and up-tempo bounce, they're never shied away tackling topics that aren't that fun either. Over a cavernous half-time beat crafted by in-house producer Haz Beats, 'Gossip' sees Team Dynamite rappers Lucky Lance and Tony Tz - and some sampled conversations - tackling gossip and the reasons why we gossip head on.

Lucky Lance has a uniquely toned and curly flow, one that marks him out as singular within New Zealand's niche but storied hip-hop scene. Coloured by some screwed down (and pitched up) cyborg vocal manipulation, a punchy, prizefighting second verse from Tony Tz, and distant chime melodies as a backdrop, it's a sonic uppercut. In recent years, Team Dynamite have collaborated with UK rap and beats artists Rodney P and Eric Lau.