Altered States Tapes is very proud to present the debut album by Keanu Nelson.
I was fortunate enough to briefly connect with Keanu while visiting his home, the remote community of Papunya, late last year. Our visit happened to be well-timed, as Keanu turned up unexpectedly one afternoon to accept Paloma Pizarro’s offer of jamming with her partner, Yuta Matsumura, who we happened to be staying with. I was lucky enough to see 'Family' take shape before my eyes/ears in the space of a couple of hours. The song would continue to ring through my head, for the remainder of my time in the NT, and more generally in the time since. Even in the brief moment I encountered Keanu, I could tell that he was a one-of-a-kind personality and I hope that this same spirit connects with people through his songs.
Produced and recorded in Papunya by Yuta Matsumura, the functionally-minimal electronic backings provide the perfect canvas for Keanu to transpose the stories from his notebook, sung in both Language and occasional English, into sound. The influence of Papunya's strong local church community is evident at times in the Casio Gospel sound of some tracks. As are the plodding, reggae-esque beats in others, not unlike those that are mysteriously distributed in community via USB sticks and phone transfers to be played on TV's.
Also a semi-regular painter at the Papunya Tjupi Arts Centre, Keanu's album can be seen as another manifestation of the intense creativity evident in the community, wherein dreamings of traditional culture, family and home are dominant themes.