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March 22, 2004 | by  | in Music |
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urbantramper :: To the future on foot…

This album has been in my stereo all day, and each listen begged more questions. Who are you urbantramper? And who are your abstruse friends, the treeninjas and ratfaceblaktooth? I know little about you, yet your music is satisfying and pleasing, and I’m intrigued.

It seems urbantramper is the artistic moniker for Thomas Juanism, a chap who likes to sift the streets of Wellington city with ‘phones on his head,’ hence the pseudonym. With the help of his band the treeninjakollectiv, his debut album brings together mid-nineties acoustic guitar atmospheres – think OK Computer-era Radiohead – with keyboards and passive electronica weaving through many of the softened, mellow tracks.

With titles like ‘nobeerat bayles’ or ‘haeremai kowhai’, and a CD inside that read like this, “…peace as our shield and art as our weapon, we are ninjas – living amongst and breathing the trees,’ I wonder just how seriously I should take urbantramper.

The album is slightly tedious and sometimes one-dimensional. Certain songs seem to drift and fade without really going anywhere. And track 8, ironically titled ‘BULLSHIT’ is a mixture of crude hip-hop, steel guitar and what sounds like samples from the National Radio archives. These sounds come together out of nowhere, while an unknown MC sings of capitalism and greed while praising the fact that he is a part of the tree ninja clan.

Despite my initial reservation, this is a well produced, independent local release and I’m sure it will find many a fan amoung those who respect the values of ‘the treeninjakollectiv’.

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