Bruce Paine: Alberton (2012) – By Philip Smolen

To American sensibilities, a film and CD about a pioneering family and the sumptuous estate they built may seem a little odd, but New Zealander Bruce Paine tackles this very subject in his new project “Alberton.” Paine is a supremely gifted classical guitarist and he has focused all of his creative energies (writing, filming and performing) to this tribute which is a marvelous combination of music, video, and concert.

Alberton is a national historic site in New Zealand. It is an estate in the province of Auckland that was built and developed by Alan Kerr Taylor (1832 – 1890). Taylor was a businessman and entrepreneur, and he and his family were beloved by the nearby community. Paine has a deep love of the estate as well and has performed many concerts there. As he was developing the concept for his new album, it occurred to Paine that songs written about the Taylor family and the wondrous home they built would be perfect.

The film consists of 14 video montages which segue from Paine performing to historic images and period scene reenactments, along with words taken from Alan Kerr Taylor’s own letters, and then back to Paine playing. Each selection reflects a different aspect of Alberton and the videos are soothing and deeply reflective. It is amazing the emotions that Paine is able to pull out of his guitar.

One of my favorite videos is “Seringapatam”, a tribute to Taylor’s Indian birthplace. Paine beautifully captures the spirit of India on his classical guitar. It is so rich in Indian sitar tonality that it is uncanny. Another favorite video is “Music Box Waltz” where a song from the Taylors’ vintage music box slowly gives way to Paine’s guitar performance of the same piece.

This film is a remarkable tribute made by a remarkable musician/filmmaker. It is a story of a special family and home and is performed with reverence and devotion. “Alberton” is a thoughtful, engaging film concert and succeeds in bringing the viewer into a new unexplored world. It is also a creative and meditative homage. I’ve never been to Alberton (or New Zealand for that matter), but after watching Bruce Paine’s passionate tribute, I definitely would like to go there.

For more information on Bruce Paine and the “Alberton” DVD/CD combo, please visit: http://www.brucepaine.co.nz

To see Bruce Paine perform one of the selections from “Alberton”, please go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FIVjPof7ec

To find out more about Alberton itself, please visit: http://www.historicplaces.org.nz/placestovisit/auckland/alberton.aspx