Kody Nielson – Birthday Suite (Flying Nun Records)

Kody Nielson is a musical chameleon. Throughout his fifteen-year professional music career, he has moved from angsty punk rock with the Mint Chicks, to alt-pop with Opossom, and electronic with Silicon.

His latest offering Birthday Suite is under his own name and continues down this trend of Kody giving fans something different in what is arguably his most experimental and ambitious project yet.

A concept album of sorts, each song on Birthday Suite is named after a friend or family member of Kody, and with this, each of the pre-album singles was released on that person’s birthday, with the album itself to be released worldwide on Kody’s birthday on May 9.

Birthday Suite is made up entirely of instrumentals and sees Kody experiment with jazz, synth-based classical music, and krautrock.

There are synth flourishes throughout the twelve tracks, as well as complex jazz rhythms, and electronic patterns imitating strings, harpsichord and wind instruments.

Tracks like Bic’s Birthday and Ruban’s Birthday are examples of what I would describe as electronic classical music, the sound you would imagine if Bach was making music today, while things get funky on the likes of Christopher’s Birthday and James’s Birthday similar in respects to his brother Ruban’s latest album with UMO.

It is on these funkier numbers where Kody gets to show off his prowess on the drums, a skill he has very much improved on in recent years through playing with both Opossom and his partner Bic Runga.

With Birthday Suite, Kody Nielson has managed to create something that sounds very different to anything else in the pop sphere at the moment. He was ambitious on this project and on the whole, has succeeded in creating an album that helps cement his position as being one of the most interesting artists in New Zealand music from the last ten years.

Sam Smith