Disciples / UK / 2022
A collection of non-album singles, tracks recorded for compilations, and new material by the New Zealand based singer-songwriter.
- “Maxine Funke's music, immediate and entirely unpretentious, suggests a world in which Katherine Mansfield rubs shoulders with Liz Harris, or Vashti Bunyan grows up on the Flying Nun catalog.” - Digital Regress
- “There are times when Maxine Funke’s songs feel so light, it seems as if a heavy sigh could blow them away. But hold that breath, and her curious, knotty guitar quickly takes hold. Bring them on a walk, and the songs take on a kaleidoscopic quality as the shifting improvisations of birds, neighbors, bugs, and traffic peek through her murmured melodies.” - Pitchfork
‘Low key’ summarises pretty much every aspect of Maxine Funke’s work - her solo music first emerged on a CD-R in 2008, following a stint in experimental combo $100 Band alongside fellow alumni of the New Zealand musical underground Alastair Galbraith and Mike Dooley. Lace was the first of four albums released several years apart on small but discerning imprints such as Digital Regress, Feeding Tube and A Colourful Storm.
Each record arrived with little fanfare at press or in the increasingly ubiquitous brain prison of social media. Transmissions from the other side of the world emanating a profound sense of stillness. Despite this, a devoted cult following has been gradually built via word-of-mouth, and the advocacy of influential fans, which has seen her music in regular rotation at radio stations such as NTS and WFMU, and even popping up in the streaming playlists of DJs more noted for spinning club bangers - her records perhaps selected as the perfect comedown selection after a heavy all-nighter.
Her beautifully understated songs mainly foreground Maxine’s voice, accompanied by minimal guitar picking, occasionally augmented with subtle deployment of organ chords and field recordings, captured in an intimate low fidelity manner which makes the listener feel like they’re in the room with the artist performing just for them. Her lyrics deftly tie together the mundane and the profound, painting tiny vignettes of everyday life that rival the best short stories - in some ways Lucia Berlin and Grace Paley are better artistic comparisons for Maxine Funke than any musician. Above all, Funke is a master of creating a certain mood, her songs essentially tone poems in magical miniature.
Alongside the four Maxine Funke studio albums to date (Lace, Felt, Silk and Seance), there have also been a number of lathe cuts, limited run 7” singles for labels such as the much-loved Gothenburg-based I Dischi Del Barone, and contributions to various artist compilations. None of these songs featured on her albums, and they are now gathered together, alongside some unreleased material, on Pieces Of Driftwood.
Disciples has approached the compiling from the point of view of making a Maxine Funke mixtape for a friend, an introduction into her spectral world - whilst the album is dominated by her stunning acoustic-based songs, they are also broken up by the occasional abstract drum machine instrumental and collaborations with noise guitarist P.Wits.
If you want a place to start with Maxine’s very special music, then we would humbly suggest that Pieces Of Driftwood is it. It also trails a brand new album from Maxine that will be released by Disciples in spring 2023 - more news on that soon.
- RIYL: Linda Perhacs, Sibylle Baier, Vashti Bunyan, Myriam Gendron, Grouper, Karen Dalton, Bridget St John, Nick Drake, Elizabeth Cotten, Nico, Mazzy Star, Loren Connors, Joanne Robertson
Spec: Black vinyl in reverse board colour printed sleeve with download card