New Release: Tiny Ruins – Dogs Dreaming

Photo Credit: Frances Carter

Tiny Ruins, the project of New Zealand musician Hollie Fullbrook, recently announced Ceremony, their new album out April 28th on Marathon Artists. Today, they share a new track, ‘Dogs Dreaming’, one of most exuberant offerings thus far from Tiny Ruins. Alex Freer’s drums lay a particularly playful bedrock amidst rippling organ and strong, unyielding vocals from Fullbrook.

Deft clusters of Cass Basil’s bass notes free-wheel between floating and sliding, while Tom Healy’s spirited guitar flourishes and additional vocals lace the song with a sort of mid-80s nostalgia. “Dogs Dreaming” was written on a solo expedition to the Āwhitu Peninsula, when Fullbrook surveyed the isolated lighthouse alone at dusk, freaking herself out in the process. The song captures the feeling of racing adrenaline: “Like the dogs in their dreams, paws know when to run / The body knows what it needs, like the beat knows the drum.”

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. How do you move from loss and grief to acceptance and some kind of peace? How do you live knowing that you are surrounded by forces far beyond your control?

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 – from Freer’s deft and inventive drumming and Basil’s conversational bass lines to Healy’s lightening-strikes of electric guitar – land Fullbrook’s hard songs in an blissfully warm bedrock of sound – steadied in a kind of musical trust fall.