"I live another life in the world of music, and I suspect most people do. Ideas of self and place disappear, time and language are altered; one can experience another's life there."

Born in 1965, Alastair Galbraith employs amongst his instruments, violin, bagpipes, softly spoken lyrics, organ, and backwards-guitar to create what has been described as "otherworldly" and an "unerringly emotional" sound. Noted American critic Byron Coley has said "his work is filled with beautiful darkness, worthy of classic designation".

His long, consistent career began in the early 1980s, as leader of The Rip, who recorded two EPs for Flying Nun. He later joined other prominent South Island musicians Peter Jefferies, David Mitchell and Robbie Muir to form Plagal Grind, whose self-titled EP is regarded as a masterpiece of extra-academic experimental music.

Alastair's solo work has gained a growing international reputation and is known as a benchmark of excellence for the independent, idiosyncratic mode it operates in. His works have been heralded in critical journals and documented by recordings on prestigious American labels. In his recent work, alongside solo recordings, Alastair collaborates with Bruce Russell in the improvisational group, A Handful of Dust, and with Matt De Gennaro, with whom he creates distinctive 'wire music', using piano wires in a site-specific installation.

His 2004 Radiant CD with Dino Karlis, has been described as "a monstrous collaboration between two of New Zealand's most vital underground musicians". In 2006 the prestigious North American label, Table of the Elements, archivers of such twentieth century musical geniuses as Charlie Patton and Tony Conrad, gave Alastair's solo work the status of contemporary classics by reissuing his albums Morse/Gaudylight and Talisman.   Alastair's album of song-based material, the 20-track Orb, was released on his own label Nextbestway, via Global Routes, early in 2008 and received a glowing full-page review in the February edition oficon UK magazine The Wire.

Alastair received an Arts Foundation Laureate Award in 2006.  The Laureate Award is an investment in excellence across a range of art forms for an artist with prominence and outstanding potential for future growth. Their work is rich but their richest work still lies ahead of them. The Award recognises a moment in the artists' career that will allow them to have their next great success. 

In 2008 the New York Label Azul Discographica released his collaboration with Bruce Russell - (under the moniker Handful of Dust) - the album Panegyrics.

Alastair is presently constructing a glass 'armonica', an instrument invented in 1761 by Benjamin Franklin. He sourced his materials locally and has given several performances on the not-quite-complete instrument. He is also designing his second "glass tube fire organ". The first is in the collection of the Sarjeant Gallery, Wanganui. The 3 1/2 octave flame organ includes 44 burners which will be mechanically controlled from a keyboard, to produce notes in borosilicate Rijke tubes.  The team involved consists of Anne Ryan and Greg Kerr (glass-blowers), Tim Duval-Smith (mechanical engineer) and Alastair Galbraith (musician). 

Alastair released his album Mass in July 2010, and it made The Wire's top 50 records of 2010.

Alastair lives at Taieri Mouth near Dunedin with his partner and son.

 
 Alastair Galbraith performs on his glass 'armonica' at the 2009 Laureate Awards,
held at the ASB Showgrounds, Auckland.
Image by Ken Baker

Video

2006
A compilation from the sound and video archives of Alastiar Galbraith.
Shows one note of the glass 'armonica' assembled in 2007 - being made by Anne Ryan at Otago University.
1965
Born, Invercargill
1980s
Began career in the band ‘The Rip';Played in bands ‘Plagal Grind', ‘A handful of Dust' and ‘Lame & Sorry'
1984
Released A Timeless Peace EP (Flying Nun)
1987
Released Hurry on Down cassette (Xpressway)
1990
Released Plagal Grind EP (NZ Xpressway)
1998
Performed at the Terrastock Festival, San Francisco
2001
Performed at the Lost and Found Festival, Amsterdam
2004
Released Radiant CD with Dino Karlis
2006
Arts Foundation Laureate Award recipient;Released Waves and Particles (Emperor Jones)
2008
Released 20-track Orb on own label Nextbestway;included in "100 sound artists of the 221st Century" at the Gertrude Gallery, Melbourne
2010
Released album Mass, on Stiltbreeze Records, Philadelphia;Released Dances for the Blind Owl on La Station Radar, Paris