The third long player from Auckland singer-songwriter Ben Tolich – aka Mali Mali – is his most intimate yet. Not that he was exactly rocking out on his previous albums, the acoustic-flavoured As A Dog Dreams and Gather ’round the Gooseclock, but Azimuth is built on spare, rippling pianoscapes, augmented by discreetly deployed guitar and occasional strings and brass from his wife Alice.
The closest reference point is probably Peter Jefferies/This Kind Of Punishment, although the tone is warmer and less discordant, particularly on the gently cascading opener ‘Remembrances’ and the gorgeous ebb and flow of ‘When We First Saw Saturn’s Flow’. Tolich describes the album as a “psycho-spiritual journey dealing with themes of balance, mystery, deconstruction and reconnection”, and the lyrics are more enigmatic this time, although the delicate ballads ‘Ruru Cry’ and ‘Wavelength’ are imbued with rich naturalistic imagery, while his wry, self-deprecating wit is very much to the fore on ‘Jesus Ain’t A Horrid Word’. There’s even room for an atmospheric instrumental, which features some lovely 12 string guitar touches from Australian artist Jordan Ireland. Mali Mali tends to fly under the radar on the homegrown scene; let’s hope that Azimuth helps change that.
Home Alone Music