Tiny Ruins, the project of New Zealand musician Hollie Fullbrook, will release their new album, Ceremony, this Friday via Ba Da Bing. Today, they present its last single, “Out Of Phase.” A mineral rich song, seductive in both pace and its compact melodic punch, “Out Of Phase” is propelled by the interweaving lines of Fullbrook’s finger-picked guitar work and Cass Basil’s bass. It’s a unity which belies the track’s moody, questioning undercurrents, as Fullbrook puts it, “Why do we fight, and where does it take us to? Where do phases of misalignment, seasons of unrest, leave us?”
The follow-up to 2019’s celebrated Olympic Girls, Ceremony goes deep into all the old and murky mysteries of what it means to be human – and sometimes it nearly goes under. Yet these songs also show how you can find the strength to swim from the shipwreck, push through the silt, and surface into another new morning. Another new chance.
Ceremony washes in and takes you out like a strong tide, its songs “chapters” of a saga set on the shores of Tāmaki Makaurau’s (aka Auckland’s) Manukau Harbour. Known to locals as “Old Murky,” its western fringe of the Waitākere Ranges are home to Fullbrook. And while the harbor itself is a treacherous and oft-polluted body of water, move to one of its many peaceful inlets and it’s all tidal flats, shellfish and birdlife. “It’s beautiful but also muddy, dirty and neglected. It’s a real meeting of nature and humanity,” says Fullbrook. Although the things Fullbrook was struck by are annotated across Ceremony as luminously as a naturalist’s scrapbook, Ceremony is not a watercolor ramble through the natural world. These songs are not afraid of getting earth under the nails, of digging deep into some of the hardest matters of human existence.
Ceremony’s productions are maximal, deep, complex. No moment is squandered without a clever polyrhythm, a curious harmonic tension introduced, an unexpected timbre. The intuitive weave of instrumentation land Fullbrook’s hard songs in an blissfully warm bedrock of sound – steadied in a kind of musical trust fall.