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How the Dead Live

for voice and folk instruments with environmental sounds

Year:  2007

Year:  2007

Composer:   Jordan Reyne

Films, Audio & Samples

Sample Audio

Sample: The Witness 02:15 - 03:58

See details ➔
Sample Audio

Sample: The Dead 00:00 - 04:26

See details ➔


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How the Dead Live is inspired by the story of one of the early pioneers - Susannah Hawes. Susannah left her life in Gravesend, London to sail to New Zealand in 1874. After three months on the ship "Michael Angelo", Hawes and her husband arrived in Nelson. From there, they were sent on to Karamea as part of a disastrously unplanned settlement programme.

Reyne, spent 6 weeks in Karamea (where she also grew up) as part of the Creative New Zealand and Department of Conservation "Wild Creations" programme. She researched Susannah's letters and the local legends surrounding her character. She sourced the sounds that that would have made up Susannah's environment at the time, basic farm implements, steam ships, saws and sleuths, and set these sounds to folk instruments.

"It's a fierce and unflinching vision, familiar to those who know Reyne's work, and it's perfectly etched with double vocals combined with that dense, intense electronic backdrop..."
– William Dart, New Horizons, RNZ 19 April 2009

"How The Dead Live is a fascinating and intense listen. Reyne's voice is, as ever, a gift. And the fact that she chooses to use it by applying the tools of a story-writer and an illustrator, rather than just taking the easy route, is all the more encouraging..."
– Simon Sweetman, Dominion Post, 17 April, 2009

Contents note

From Gravesend
The Micheal Angelo
The Witness
The Brave
The Dead
The Proximity of Death (Blue Eyed Bly)
Ghosts (Lest We Forget)
Blood; Remembering the Dead

Text note

Text by Jordan Reyne

Performance history

Vocals, guitars, soundscape design by Jordan Reyne