Wellington trio Urbantramper are more than just a band. Associated with a variety of other artistic and community endeavors their latest EP ‘Tomorrow We Leave Here’ was written for the Poor Sailors Arts Collective production: A Colony for Urban Change. It is a collection of electric sea shanties with singalong choruses and wobbling synthesizers. Folk music and modern synth-pop may be musical generations apart but Urbantramper attempt to unite these two distant and feuding cousins. In many ways this union is successful, creating an energizing and futuristic audioscape with a sense of proximity and community. Over the course of the 6-track EP however the drought of dynamic and timbre responsive organic instruments can become aurally fatiguing, the android accompaniment’s parameters remaining unresponsive to the subtleties of human touch. Relief comes in the familiar sound of a male voice, providing the traditional folk elements, oral traditions such as story telling and group singing as well as the contemporary addition of attention-grabbing vocal manipulation. The stand-out track ‘Sailors’ not only contains phasing, vocoded and pitch-altered vocals throughout, it also provides a captivating chorus, of which the melody is effectively traded between the singer and the chiming synth lead. The inspirational vocal crescendo at the beginning ‘Sail On’ is also a reminder of the emotive power a raw human voice can wield. ‘Tomorrow We Leave Here’ sounds great and is produced to the highest quality, each part present and unobscured for your listening pleasure. It is a clever and highly enjoyable EP which holds a wide appeal to fans of modern pop stylings with a definitive quirky edge. 

By Daniel Barrett (NZ Musician)

No mix-mash of genre’s can ever seem out of place anymore, especially when you can pull of an extensive variance of different sounds in your music.  Take New Zealand’s, Urbantramper for example, they pull this off in the most excellent of ways with their use of spastic-electro against the backdrop of their folky harmonizing vocals.  On paper this might not make sense but when you take a listen to Tomorrow We Leave Here, things become clear pretty quick.

With the standout songs, “Sail On” & “My Hearts Beat Slow” you will be pulled in by their unique sound. Urbantramper are Lake (vocals, acoustic guitar, bass, keyboard), Phil Jones (bass, Bvs, keyboard/computer), Andy Hoy (drums/samples).  They currently reside in Wellington, New Zealand.  Without further adieu step into their self-described “ElectricUTOPIA” below.

The six tracks that make up this new EP/mini-album from Urbantramper will not surprise fans of the previous work from this Wellington-based group. It’s that same mix of electro/dance with pop sing/song instincts.
In fact it’s a fine follow-up to last year’s superb Internet Freedom Is Love, in that it’s a smart move to follow up a great full-lengther with a single-serve rather than another big scoop. This EP offers all you need from Urbantramper, a mini-epic in Sail On, a crawling late-night mood-swing with My Heart Beats Slow and a sea shanty as reimagined for the file-sharing crowd with Great Open Sea. It’s best served in fact by the single line description on the Bandcamp page of “Electric Sea Shanties written for the Poor Sailors Arts Production”; there is something almost folkish/folksy about the way the songs curl around the vocals, the musical backdrop is all but phased in and out around soaring vocals on Sailor.
I loved Internet Freedom Is Love and Tomorrow We Leave Here is a smart move to follow-up. The cult is well served by this, and new fans can take a bite without committing to the whole meal. But there’s a lot to like about the work of Urbantramper, a lot of depth. They seem to create the po-faced version of what, I’m sure, so many people figure to be ironic. There’s no irony here. Just smart song-craft, strong bedsit ideas and a fearless commitment to exploring new spaces for a pop song to rest.
By Simon Sweetman


Dominion Post (Thursday, July 5, 2012)

Sunday Star Times.

"Sometime you get an idea about a band without even taking the time to find out what they’re really about. That happened to me with Wellington’s Urbantramper – a band that’s been around town for a while, yet a band that I hadn’t checked out because I had some weird preconceived idea about what I expected them to sound like. Where this came from I have no idea, but the opportunity to hear their new album Internet Freedom Is Love was a chance to right those wrongs.
And man, was I blown away by what I heard. The band seem to move in indie circles, but to describe them as an indie band doesn’t even come anywhere close to capturing what they actually do. For a start, this is more electronic pop goodness, than shoegazing droning guitars. There are undercurrents of world music, and hints of tribalism in the rhythm section.
Layers upon layers of sound rise and swell, before dropping away again, lending an organic feel to this very electronic music. Reverbed vocals float above the instrumentation, with the occasional drop of autotune reminding you that this is essentially an album of, from and for the digital age. 
The album is essentially a love letter to technology; references to the everyday influences of the online world are scattered throughout, yet for all the modernity there’s often a very retro flavour to songs, with several sounding as though they could have been updated and rebooted from 80’s pop.
There’s plenty of bands, local and international, out there doing similar things to what Urbantramper have achieved with iFiL, and getting a lot more attention, but to this new fan Urbantramper do it better than anyone else I’ve heard recently."
(Alistair3000, Music.Net.NZ,

"One of the many talents of this Wellington-based three-piece is coining musical genres, and in this latest release they have shifted from being a ‘Future Folk’ outfit to an ‘ElectricUtopia’ band. However they label it, the sound they create on this impressive album is indicative of the band’s unremitting creativity, as well as the understanding that has developed between the members after more than eight years working together. This is electronica extremely well done – there are more ideas on this album than other artists might fit into three, but they flow seamlessly into each other. The intelligently employed effects and superb musicianship make for a dreamy, textured sound that maintains attention throughout. Home Alone Music label mates Kate Uhe (City Oh Sigh), Brooke Singer (French for Rabbits) and Timothy Blackman all appear on this album which was self-recorded and produced at home in the capital. Another inspiring offering from one of the most original acts around."
(Ben Martin, NZ Musician,

"Wellingtonian collective Urbantramper have been in existence for around 10 years, revolving around the songwriting talents of lead singer Lake.
Having recently returned from a songwriting sojourn in France, he has assembled a new three-piece line-up, and taken a new direction for their fifth album - they've eliminated guitars, and embraced multiple lush layers of keys, midi and percussion with quite wonderful results.
There's a more joyous disposition to their "electric-utopian" sound, and their propulsive rhythms, catchy melodic hooks, and effortless vocals revel in the freedom of a large, broad, musical canvas.
They're a bit hippie in some of their sentiments (hence the album title), but also have a sense of humour. They have track titles like Kate Bush Saved My Life, and Stephen Dedalus Is My Homeboy (which is an early highlight), with lyrics that carefully jest at themselves, and craft beer-drinking creative types.
Then there's subtle protest song Wireless Warmth, and Je Ne Crois Pas En L'Avenir (I Do Not Believe In the Future) which introduce a slightly more dystopian dissatisfaction, just to offset the idealistic pop bent...if you're into the dreamy, colourful sound of Pitchfork favourites like M83, the Shins, Yeasayer, and Choir of Young Believers, then you'll enjoy this local equivalent.
Stars: 4.5/5
Verdict: Beautifully executed dreamy electro-pop collection"
(Lydia Jenkin - NZ Herald,

"Internet Freedom Is Love is the interestingly titled new album from Wellington, New Zealand indie pop band Urbantramper. The 10 tracks blend retro synth sounds with soulful stylings and folk aesthetics to cut a unique figure of synthpop. Imagine The Postal Service meets Human League meets The National. Yes, what we are saying is you really need to here this one. The production is crisp, the beats are cool and the vibe is pure electro. Stream and buy Internet Freedom Is Love at the link below."


"Wellington-based Urbantramper release a new album full of honesty, diversity and witty lyrics that is dedicated to the different concepts of the internet and all things related; thus appropriately titled Internet Freedom Is Love.
The trio takes inspiration from all that surrounds us, and in a narrative manner that embarks on modernistic and down-to-earth concepts, composing songs that speak to the audience with truthfulness and dedication. Musically, the band knows how to hit all the right notes; they create a folk/pop sound that is uplifting and refreshing and use a diversity of instruments that translate into heavenly tunes. Lead vocalist Lake sings with a remarkably soothing voice that takes you into the dream world the band intended on creating and as they add a touch of reggae and even funk to their music, the album becomes anything but dull."
(Gal Stern, Groove Guide

"Wellington three-piece Urbantramper might espouse a dedication to the dissemination of ideas via wi-fi, email and the web, but let's ignore its motivations and focus instead on the at-times achingly beautiful results.
Blending electronic elements (loops, samples and keyboard noodling) with tribal percussion and occasional dance-floor-inspired filter sweeps, the trio also make sure there's plenty of human heart at play, largely courtesy of dreamy, emotive vocals allied to a pop sensibility that refuses to be buried beneath the carefully constructed layers.
Clever stuff."
Single download: I Saw The Takapau Dawn
For those who like: Peter Gabriel, Mulholland
(Shane Gilchrist- Otago Daily Times,

"UrbanTramper is a member of Wellington’s Home Alone Music Collective which is, well, a collective of musicians based in Wellington. The band has been around in one form or another since at least 2004, has released two previous albums and now consists of three core members…Lake (vocals, bass, keys), Andy Hoy (drums, midi triggers) and Phil Jones (keys, backing vocals, bass).
Rather than leaving the job of labelling their music to others, they have taken the bull by the horns and call what they do “future folk”. Here is their explanation, which can be found on their website:
Future – because we are in a state of becoming and our music is an aural representation of unrealised dreams.
Folk – because we write simple songs for everyone to play and sing along to.
They also claim to be experimenting with something called “ElectricUTOPIA” . Fortunately, they are kind enough to further expound on that term:
ElectricUTOPIA is an aural representation of unrealised dreams. It’s the soundtrack to the future we forgot – Urbantramper still holds a hope for that future. Utopia, used positively, gives shape to our idealistic musings. It is the northern star that we strive for but cannot, and will not, ever reach. It is this unattainable quality which gives utopia its value a conceptual tool.
The music on Internet Freedom Is Love is synth-based, but manages to avoid the coldness that often plagues that style. Lake’s vocals are detached, yet passionate. The songs themselves address modern issues that didn’t exist a generation ago…on-line chats, wi-fi connection, emails and emoticons, yet there is a definitely ecological streak that runs through the album. Bird sounds permeate I Saw The Takapau Dawn, while “fields with naked trees pass by” on the wonderful Kate Bush Saved My Life.
Kate Bush isn’t the only one to be namechecked in an UrbanTramper tune…James Joyce’s alter ego gets a shout-out in Stephen Dedalus Is My Homeboy…another highlight featuring some sparkling keyboard work and hypnotic percussion...there are a lot of good ideas, thoughtful lyrics and inventive musical paths taken with several female vocalists and guests playing cello, violin and trumpet on hand to help out.
The band, or collective, or whatever they are, are offering up one track a day in May to be streamed here:
Check it out."
(Marty Duda - 13th Floor

"All that is solid melts into air..." : The Workers' Album (2010)

Wellington’s Urban Tramper have been recording somewhat eccentric
music since 2004, their reputation growing with every release. Their latest
album takes inspiration from vocalist and guitarist Lake’s negative
experiences working in Melbourne in 2005, and comes across as a sort
of concept album, detailing the worker’s plight. Lead single Marching
Song is a classic protest folk tune, while For A 30 Hour Working Week
takes the form of brass infused funk. Urban Tramper have used ‘The
Worker’s Album’ as a medium to run through different styles – aside
from folk and funk, alt-rock and summery reggae are present, but the
standout track is the hoe-down country of A Robot in the Seat
(complete with slide guitar and harmonica), which surprises with each
listen. With strong musicianship on each of the seven tracks this adds
to Urban Tramper’s reputation for catchy, upbeat pop, while also
representing the group as a collective who bounce off each others
talents, and definitely march to the beat of their own drum.
(Amanda Mills - NZ MUSICIAN)

"Rise & ride toward..." (2009)

"This Wellington band's fourth and best album is a wholegrain, organic, occasionally fruity folk-pop delight, with beautiful arrangements, wistful lead vocals...and heavenly harmonies...It's great."
(Grant Smithies - SUNDAY STAR TIMES)

“Following up 2007’s Tokon & The Colours was always going to be difficult, but Urbantramper has made a record that not only complements it, …it explores new subjects and translates modernistic musical ideas…Fetching melodies and delicately audacious pop songs”

"Personal, witty, fun, warm, great production, really good musicianship"
(Shaun McKenna - Radio NZ)

This album is a folk-pop gem, blending the two genres to excellent effect. It shifts at times from upbeat to morose and back again within the space of two or three songs, but at no point is originality ever in short supply. ... the feel of the album was as though I had been invited in from the cold to share secrets, swap stories, or simply marvel at a delicate piece of art, not wanting to speak too loudly for fear of spoiling the moment. All the while the album retains a sense of refreshing simplicity. It is not particularly dense, there are no fancy effects, nor is there any sense of having to peel off the layers in order to access the true core of each song. The result is an album which feels remarkably honest. Urban Tramper don’t seem to be trying to impress anyone, and it is working wonders for them.

Ce groupe Néo-Zélandais ne bénéficie pas d’une réputation à la hauteur de leur (déjà) quatrième album. La pop à la sauce folk de ceux là respire l’espace et le lyrisme tout en n’évitant pas l’efficacité (les chansons sont en général courtes et efficaces). C’est un groupe qui fait son bout de chemin discrètement et, faut le dire, on aime les suivre…
(Radio Campus Rennes)

The fourth full-length album from Wellington quintet Urbantramper will, with any due justice, be the one that sees their audience itself rise and ride toward a wider appreciation. With a hundred and one ideas packed into one compact disc, it's almost hard to keep up - one minute singer/songwriter Lake is jauntily pondering coming home and getting a job, backed with a chorus of many and a glockenspiel ("I Live In A Shoe House"), the next he's tipping the hat to African pop music and singing about "My Grand Plan". Co-vocalist Eli first comes to the fore on "Southern Hemisphere Blues", duetting with Lake on the first tune I've heard use the words cellphone and inbox and still keep the song pretty and believable! If you've never delved into the music of these self-professed Tree Ninjas, make Rise and Ride Toward your first point of entry - eeeeeeeeet's well worth eeeeeeet.

(Matthew Crawley - cheese on toast)

Wellington five-piece Urban Tramper have been around the block a few times, not to mention a few blocks in Europe and the UK, and the list of contemporaries they have shared the stage with serves them well as a plinth upon which they can stand and watch their musical dynasty expand. ‘Rise and Ride Toward’ is a heartfelt collection of songs in an LP format that wanders around the ‘alternative’ genre with fairly big cheeky steps over the line into the territory of folk and pop – however one of the more enjoyable elements of the music is in its quaint quirkiness and propensity to side step cataloguing. Lyrically, and in the spirit of the group’s name, the tunes have an aura of exploration. Be it relationships, social idiosyncrasies, or human nature, concepts are explored almost exclusively as a narrative, allowing the listener to delve into the aural landscape and ponder along. Musically, there is a diverse range of instruments on show (with a large group of contributors adding their touch) from acoustic guitar to soaring choirs, and the boy-meets girl harmonies are a real highlight, endearing the listener to the artists and the stories they tell. The stand out tune is Hot Young Couples, an ironic jaunt on the realities of long term relationships in this day and age that typifies what works so well on this album. Self-recorded and produced in Wellington, this is highly recommended “future folk”...

(John Paul Carroll - NZ Musician)

The journey of Urban Tramper began in 2001, with the first steps being taken by creator and lead vocalist Lake. Since their genesis, the band have toted a transient line-up and undergone the mandatory peaks and troughs of all group dynamics. But after living in the Queen’s country and dabbling in Europe, the band have returned to God’s Own with what they proclaim is their strongest line-up to date.

In under four minutes, the Wellingtonian collective manage to serve up a mish-mash of polyphonic crooning and big-band hoots and toots, all on a bed of flower-powered afro-pop. They’ve rightly chosen this delightful nod to Vampire Weekend as their first single, ‘My Grand Plan’; an apt moniker for such an ambitious aural feast. ‘It Is Close, But Not Here’ is your howling, campfire anthem for the summer. A lonesome trombone’s lament is woven into the melody towards the end, finally petering out to mirror the troubadour’s deflated spirits. This one’d slot nicely into that time spent wallowing in the aftermath of Christmas, puzzling over the anti-climax of the New Year, all whilst avoiding dreadful moment of self-reflection: What the hell have I achieved in the last twelve months?! Good thing it’s redeemed by a splattering of optimism in the buoyant canticle ‘The Ballad of Lord Warburton’. Ahhh, yes, this year isn’t going to be so glum...

Being based in the capital means they haven’t been able to escape the influence of their surroundings. They’ve been tagged with the ubiquitous ‘Wellington sound’, perpetuated by the synonymous Black Seeds and Fly My Pretties crew. There’s even a visage of Bret & Jemaine in ‘Hot Young Couples’ (although I’m not sure if it’s sincere or purely accident...). For those of you who curl your lip and snarl that you’ve heard it all before, I guarantee you’ll be singing a different tune by the halfway mark. In fact, you’ll most likely be singing along.

(Hayley Koorts - Under the Radar)

"tokon & the colours"

Voila des Anglais qui ne devraient pas tarder à faire parler d’eux. Bien que ce soit déjà leur troisième album, l’explosion de leur « Future Folk » semble assurée ! Londres leurs à déjà ouvert les bras (et tous les chemins de la pop mènent à Londres – évidemment). En tout cas, on est tombé sous le charme de ce court album par ici. Coup de cœur du moi ! (Disponible).

"Urbantramper albums should come with a health warning. They are addictive in a charmingly disquieting way.
... A contender for album of the year."
* * * * * 5/5 (Mike Alexander- SUNDAY STAR TIMES)

"wow. He's been hinting at it with the first two albums, but this new record, lake has truly nailed it. Its outstanding. ...get this record...its pretty incredible...."(Blink- A LOW HUM)

"I heard a song on student radio early this year and immediately fell in love with it.... Sun Sets On The Empty Carnival... Tokon & the Colours is a patient and romantic album .......will hit a note with Belle and Sebastian fans...How Urbantramper gets away with being so earnest I don't know, but he does and it works..."
Rating:4/5 (Kat Cox- WAIKATO TIMES)

"Urbantramper...makes...beautiful, charming and enchanting music that manages to capture both the melancholy and the joy of... well, being, I suppose...Is your life-view a little bit in the shade and a bit in the light? ...That, most of the time the answer isn't yes or no? ...Then this, I wager, will be something you enjoy?"

"Tokon & The Colours is the brilliant 3rd album from self-described ‘Treeninja’ Lake. The songs are soft, and often acoustic with a sprinkling of instruments – drums, maracas, gentle bass, warped electronic noises, trumpets and glockenspiel ...warm, soft, down to earth and filled with lyrical summer lullabies.... This album reminds me of summer picnics under warm, cloudless skies, and lazy, sleepy days... It’s the kind of music that reminds you what peace there is in taking a moment to relax and think, ...remembering that sometimes you just need to slow down and appreciate life that goes on around you..."
(Sophie Barclay- SALIENT))