When Reuben Samuel Winter (Waitaha/Kāi Tahu/Te Aupōuri/Te Rarawa/Ngāti Kuri) passed away in September 2020, he left a hole in the New Zealand music community that will never be filled. But like the generous soul he was, he has left behind a glorious gift to us all in Milk III.
Milk III is not the last album that Reuben recorded, but it is a masterpiece and a culmination of a life immersed in music. A life spent experimenting in a plethora of eclectic genres, and constantly leading the charge of weirdness from the vanguard of the New Zealand underground. Milk III was recorded in January 2019 at Red Bull Studios, recorded, and engineered by Ben Lawson, with countless layers of overdubs recorded at Reuben’s home in Titirangi. It features an eclectic cast of musicians including Reuben Winter, Lachlan Smith, James Thorrington, Emma Hall-Phillips, Victoria Chellew, Charlie (Opi), Jong-Yun J.Y. Lee and Peter Ruddell.
Milk III is being released on black vinyl LP and Bandcamp on 20th April, 2021 via New Zealand label Flying Nun Records, with all profits split between Fibromyalgia Aotearoa New Zealand and Reuben's whānau and future fund. Reuben struggled silently with fibromyalgia and chronic pain for close to a decade, and this incurable and invisible illness affected his hauora on all levels.
The concepts for this work have been present in Reuben for years. The distinctly layered crunching guitars, the melodies that worm their way into your ears, and bite through them, the complex orchestration and arrangements within each track, lift this record up from being another incredible album from a man with a back catalogue of extraordinary albums to his name, to a stunning reflection of the fire that burned within Reuben throughout his entire life.
Reuben's altruism surpassed him, he pushed the limits of what kinds of sounds can come out of this country, and inspired a whole generation of musicians. In saying that, if there is one thing that this album does above all else, it manages to articulate the particular brand of darkness that hovers over this country.
Milk III, like it’s maker, cannot be wholly characterized by the darkness it contains. In fact, the presence of this darkness makes the moments of creative purity, of oneness of sound, of light all the more profound. To write about pain with such honesty is what makes this album worthy of absolute attention.
This record is not a hastily thrown together posthumous release. Every second of sound, every word, every multi-layered overdub was carefully considered, and lovingly crafted by Reuben. It shows an insight into who Reuben was in the last few years of his life. A man brave enough to stare his own pain in the face, and who was kind enough to share himself wholly with anyone who would listen.