Exploring Shadow & Light…

Music Plus
with Winston Watusi watusi@thesun.co.nz

Continuing to celebrate New Zealand Music Month, it’s time to fill what has become a gaping hole in the column’s recent content – no ‘Shadow & Light’.

Which means I’ll wait until next week to detail the end of NZMM: it’s going out with something of a hardcore bang at the Mount.

Right now let me correct an omission from back in February when I became rather focused on the Jazz Festival and neglected to write about ‘Shadow & Light’ – a rock opera created in Tauranga by musician/composer Kingsley Smith and lyricist Dhaivat Mehta.

They launched on digital platforms February 16.

The first ‘teaser’ track was February 6 and a couple more followed, all accompanied by simple but impressively-sophisticated AI-generated animated videos.

Currently there are no fewer than 11 videos for various songs; they can be found on the ‘Shadow & Light’ Facebook page.

More mainstream 

I must say, this at first seemed to be emerging from an unlikely source.

I’ve written about Dhaivat and Kingsley several times; between 2018 and 2022 they performed live and released six albums and three EPs under the moniker Tryptofunk; a heavy, often explicit, bass ‘n’ words duo.

If that was aimed at a niche alternative audience then ‘Shadow & Light’ is considerably more mainstream.

Kingsley has experience in this world, having composed soundtracks for various short films; Dhaivat is known as a poet, wordsmith and storyteller.

‘Shadow & Light’ comprises 27 songs, including some shorter joining pieces. It comes in two acts and is an ambitious concept, following Agent Marcus as he discovers corruption in his agency involving human trafficking, guns and drug dealing.

Things rapidly expand to encompass an age-old conspiracy involving a secret Baal-worshipping cult, a lost key and...there’s more!

Musically it leans towards epic and Gothic, although many musical genres peek in.

To realise their vision Kingsley and Dhaivat have recruited a number of singers, principal being Marilyn Collins-Smith, Brendon Maher and Brendon Nicholas.

I actually mentioned Marilyn last week since her new psychedelic duo with Baz Mantis – both from The Grand Bazaar – The In’theway Mangosteen Experience plays The Jam Factory on May 24.

Brendon Maher connects to this too: he sang on Baz’s gothic-metal project, D-Day Saints, though some might remember him more as the title character in Baycourt’s version of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.

Brendon Nicholas has been in many bands, currently Righteous Villains with a couple of ex-Knightshade lads.

Another rock opera 

Now it’s all out there. You can read the story synopsis on Facebook and hear the whole thing on Spotify.

Talk has started about plans for a future stage production; I’m sure this isn’t the last time I’ll be writing about it.

Interestingly, this isn’t the only recent “rock opera” from Tauranga.

Early-2022 Michael Baxter of band The Knids, under the name One Dead Man, released ‘The Deal’, also on Spotify, an enjoyably Steinman-esque romp featuring the vocal talents of Lara Wilson from Dead Simple, two other Knids, and...Kingsley Smith.