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Thu 13 Mar 2008, 9:00pm–11:30pm

Where: The Mighty Mighty, Cuba St, Wellington

Polyn-Asian Space Cadet

Tokyo-based Maori musician Ben Kemp touches down in March for a national album tour, The Un-Cut Apple. The band will be playing Wellington with local support from Good Laika.

Accompanied by three Japanese musicians Koyu Suzuki, Taro and Mitsuru Ogata, the sound of Ben Kemp & Uminari fuses modern Japanese music and sweet harmonies with Kemp’s lyrical Aotearoa born vibe and motifs.

Ben Kemp & Uminari formed in Tokyo in 2006 and the tour offers audiences in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch a chance to take a bite of their third album, The Un-Cut Apple live.

Of Rongowhakaata and German descent, Kemp describes his musical style as “organic, honest and somewhat space cadet-ish. I feel compelled to explore all corners of my creativity because I often find conventional means mundane. Freaky is good, as long as it is genuine”.

He hooked up with flautist and Japanese club musician, Mitsuru Ogata after observing the close resemblance between Ogata’s flute-style and traditional Maori flutes, koauau and nguru. Multi-instrumentalist Koyu Suziki is a graduate from Berkley College of Music in Boston and it was he who "discovered" Kemp busking on the streets of Tokyo. Taro is a graduate of Tokyo School of Music with a degree in percussion, drumming and traditional taiko techniques and he also plays the Cajon, a Cuban and Peruvian instrument,.

A recognized poet, Kemp is releasing a book of poetry in April, a book that promises to further meld the power of words from the land of the long white cloud and the Japanese way of life.

“In the tradition of the long, lost troubadours, Ben Kemp imbues his music with a narrative attention that invites the listener into his private world. Combining elements of folk and jazz with Polynesian and Asian motifs, his is a sound that at times defies description.….often eschewing constrictive verse-chorus-verse structures, his melodies ebb and flow like the endless rhymes of the tide” Frank Spignese, The Daily Yomiuri