Jordan Reyne has few peers in the New Zealand music scene. She brings together folk, sound collage, electronica and industrial noise in unique and haunting music that she describes as experimental folk/noir. Reyne's music has garnered her Creative New Zealand support for five albums and three New Zealand music award nominations.
Reyne's first release was the 1997 solo album Birds of Prey. Coming out in the same year as Bic Runga's Drive many had expectations that Reyne would also fit the mold of sweet singer-songwriter. And while she certainly had songwriting talent and a great voice her recorded songs also featured mechanical and sounds and textures that frightened off a more mainstream audience. The album Birds of Prey is regarded by some as her most accessible album, although she perhaps gained wider recognition with later work that went further down the industrial path.
To throw off any singer-songwriter expectations Reyne adopted a name that was intended to clearly indicate she was no cliched girl with a guitar. That name, Dr Kevorkian and the Suicide Machine after the American right-to-die activist certainly did that. The new moniker along with the harder, more industrial sound of her second album The Ironman started to garner Reyne a following in the darkwave scene.
The Ironman was followed by another Dr Kevorkian and the Suicide Machine release in 2002, The Loneliest of Creatures, an experimental electronic concept EP about a space probe sent out in search of intelligent life. The EP is synthesiser based and features radio recordings and the historic sounds of Sputnik. The EP boast it's own mini website explaining the concept and process of recording it can be accessed from Reyne's Dr Kevorkian site.
A trip to Germany in 2003 provided the inspiration and the field recordings of the sounds of trains and public transport that formed 2004 album The Passenger. This album also marked a return to releasing material as Jordan Reyne. The Passenger is a remarkable album - experimental but musically and emotionally engaging.
Upon her return to New Zealand in 2004 Reyne started a Department of Conservation artists residency at Karamea, at the top of the West Coast of the South Island. There she wrote the album How the Dead Live, which has finally reached release in 2009. This album is something different again with the field recordings of industrial sounds of previous releases being replaced by the sounds of the West Coast shore. How the Dead Live is a concept album, an imagining based around a real life historical figure from Karamea, Susannah Hawes. The album has received rave reviews but Reyne has said that it's release marks the end of her musical career. Living again in Germany she intends to concentrate on writing and visual arts.
Her musical legacy is unique and deserves far greater recognition than it has received to date. For a good overview check out this piece on The Lumiere Reader. As usual there are also a bunch of videos on the video page.
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