Kingsley Spargo

Kingsley Spargo

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Common Room / 
Feb 2, 2020 / 
By Rob Harbers

Maybe it was down to fatigue from the previous day’s double whammy of Fat Freddy and Mr Bubble, maybe it was the energy-sapping heat of the day, but whatever the reason, there was a criminally small audience for the inspired soundscapes of Kingsley Spargo at the Common Room on Sunday night.

Drawing on a rich history and interest in exploring new sonic palettes, the trio is made up of Napier-born Kingsley Melhuish (guitar, vocals, French horn, trumpet, taonga purou and loops), his wife Kim Meredith on spoken word poetry and lyrical inspiration, and veteran of Auckland punk Chris Orange (double bass, bv’s and occasional vocal).

The set delivered provided a wide range of styles, from the funky soul of “In The Moon”, through the bluesy Southern Gothic of “Don’t Like This Feeling” through to looped soundscapes such as “Spiders”. This last piece came from the “Native Son” collaboration with Witi Ihimaera, and explores the Maori concept of time being spiral in nature, rather than linear.

Many of the pieces made use of looped sounds from the range of instruments played by Kingsley, particularly taonga purou, which he’s still exploring the use of, and I’ll be interested to hear his future progression into this area. What he’s already doing shows great promise and demonstrates the way that these can be woven in to a richly layered – and often hauntingly dynamic – sound that’s quite original.

Kim Meredith intersperses her poetry through the set, sometimes augmented with musical accompaniment, and at other times providing a launching pad for pieces inspired by the poems . Examples of this approach were the songs “Dance of Sina” and “Fishing for Love”, which showed the creative possibilities of this meeting of minds: a truly collaborative partnership.

But it wasn’t all about the frontman. Chris Orange was given opportunity to sing some of his songs, and show his chops on the (immense) double bass. He extracted from this massive beast a wide range of sounds, which provided perfect complement and atmosphere to Kingsley’s pieces.

In whole, then, a satisfying show and a great example of the diversity of entertainment provided by the Common Room, the gem at the heart of the 200 block!

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