New Zealand’s Divide and Dissolve unfurl one of the most powerful and unsettling tracks of 2020: Denial, an eight-minute odyssey. The track boasts a potent blend of ominous sax blowing wide open into colossal heavy metal-soaked riffs. It is at once sophisticated, primal, ecstatic, and heartbreaking, reflecting the indigenous experience in New Zealand’s complex, violent history. The end of the track breaks apart into staticky cacophony, broken notes floating in the aether, hoping for healing.
The instrumental Denial, bearing shades of Tuxedomoon, Dead Can Dance, and Nine Inch Nails, encapsulates a powerful message in its tone: to undermine and destroy white supremacist colonial framework, and to fight for Indigenous Sovereignty, Black and Indigenous Liberation, Water, Earth, and Indigenous land given back.
“Sometimes we don’t need to talk in order for others to understand what’s going on,” says Divide and Dissolve. “We are also communicating with our ancestors through the music. Our ancestors help us to communicate with each other on a deeper level as well. This deep connection is able to be achieved without words.”
Divide and Dissolve members Takiaya Reed (saxophone, guitar, live effects/ (Black & Tsalagi [Cherokee]) and Sylvie Nehill (drums, live effects/ (Māori) endeavour to create instrumental music that is both heavy and beautiful, classically influenced yet thrillingly contemporary, and powerfully expressive and communicative. “It has the ability to speak without words, and utilises frequencies to interact with the naturally occurring resonance,” says the band. Their chemistry fused after discussing their Indigeneity and families, which gave them a cohesive infrastructure for songwriting.
This is the second single off their upcoming album Gas Lit, due out 29 January via Invada Records and produced by Ruban Neilson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
The stunning accompanying video was shot in Taupo, Aotearoa by notable indigenous music video director Amber Beaton at the end of the southern hemisphere’s winter. The video follows the Huka falls/Waikato awa (Waikato river) upstream to settle into Taupo-Nui-A-Tia moana (Lake Taupo), reflecting the gargantuan crescendo mood shifts of the track.
Beaton comments, “I understand and appreciate the message behind the music and wanted to make sure the video held the same intentions no matter how subtle. For instance, we start off with a shot of a Kōwhai tree. Native to Aotearoa, Kōwhai in bloom signifies to Māori that some seafood is ready for harvest, the roots can be used to make fishing hooks, the sap on the sunny side of the tree can be used to heal wounds… but the vibrancy of the yellow flower was also the first thing Captain Cook saw when he arrived on the shores of Aotearoa signalling the start of colonial violence on this whenua/land. The changing colours of its flower in the video represents our change as a country and as people since that fateful arrival.”
“Thanks are given to the local Iwitribe Ngāti Tūwharetoa, the rightful guardians of the whenua/land and to Rūaumoko the god of volcanoes, earthquakes and the seasons,” says the band.
“Denial” Available On All Streaming Platforms: Here