12 Jul 2020

The Hypnotic Songscapes of Mali Mali

From New Horizons, 5:00 pm on 12 July 2020

William Dart explores the songs of Auckland songwriter Ben Tolich, aka Mali Mali, following the ten-year trail to his latest album, I Was Told to Keep an Eye Out.

This audio is not downloadable due to copyright restrictions.

Mali Mali, aka Ben Tolich

Mali Mali, aka Ben Tolich Photo: ex artist Bandcamp site

Ben Tolich’s second EP, Brotherly, came out in the winter of 2010, and it’s the earliest of his music in the goodie-bag if you subscribe to his five-album deal on Bandcamp.

One warning: don’t go searching under Tolich, as he’s always worked under the name of Mali Mali. Which may sound exotic but it’s simply a pet name given to him by his grandfather.

Mali Mali’s first full-length album, in 2013, was Gather 'Round the Gooseclock, an auspicious album debut and a low-key triumph in the year of our Lorde and her mega-popular single, 'Royals'.

Gooseclock offered a modest 35 minutes of music with nine tracks that showed a thinking and sometimes questioning engagement with issues of songwriting.

Further development was apparent in his next two albums, 2016's As a Dog Dreams and 2018's Azimuth.

Mali Mali’s new album, I Was Told to Keep an Eye Out, certainly has an eye-catching cover, a 1998 painting by New Zealand artist Bill Hammond featuring an ominous flock of the artist's signature sentinel birds.

"Can anyone ever be just curious", Tolich asks in the song 'Some Crime from Way Back When', and pursuing a state of eternal curiosity is the key to his songwriting and storytelling.

William finds himself taken deeply into the hypnotic song-scapes.

Music Details

'Song title' (Composer) – Performers
Album title
(Label)

'Your Glowing Skin' (Tolich) – Mali Mali
Brotherly
(Mali Mali Bandcamp)

'Pages' (Tolich) – Mali Mali
Gather ‘round the Gooseclock
(Mali Mali Bandcamp)

'All the Shy Will Congregate' (Tolich) – Mali Mali
Gather ‘round the Gooseclock
(Mali Mali Bandcamp)

'I Left the Dog Out' (Tolich) – Mali Mali
As a Dog Dreams
(Mali Mali Bandcamp)

'Birkenhead' (Tolich) – Mali Mali
As a Dog Dreams
(Mali Mali Bandcamp)

'A Tornado in El Reno' (Tolich) – Mali Mali
As a Dog Dreams
(Mali Mali Bandcamp)

'When We First Saw Saturn's Rings' (Tolich) – Mali Mali
Azimuth
(Mali Mali Bandcamp)

'Hunting You Down' (Tolich) – Mali Mali
Azimuth
(Mali Mali Bandcamp)

'Some Crime from Way Back When' (Tolich) – Mali Mali
I Was Told to Keep an Eye Out
(Mali Mali Bandcamp)

'Absconding' (Tolich) – Mali Mali
I Was Told to Keep an Eye Out
(Mali Mali Bandcamp)

'Ajar' (Tolich) – Mali Mali
I Was Told to Keep an Eye Out
(Mali Mali Bandcamp)

'Two Truths and a Lie' (Tolich) – Mali Mali
I Was Told to Keep an Eye Out
(Mali Mali Bandcamp)