New Zealand composer Peter Hobbs has released a single and 360° video to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First Battle of Passchendaele (fought on 12 October 1917).
New Zealand composer and musician (and a finalist in this year’s 2017 APRA Silver Scroll awards) Peter Hobbs released his single “300 Yards of Ground” on Thursday October 12 - the 100th anniversary of the First Battle of Passchendaele. To commemorate the devastating number of New Zealand soldiers’ lives lost on the day, he has created a stunning 360° video to accompany the song (complete with spatial audio). Starting off as an innocent music video, a band dressed in early 20th century attire plays the song – whilst the viewer gradually finds him or herself edging uncomfortably close to the battle itself. It is a truly unnerving experience, and a moving tribute to those who died at Passchendaele.
The lyrics to “300 Yards of Ground” are based on a letter by Private Leonard Hart who survived what was known as “New Zealand’s Darkest Day”. On 12 October 1917, NZ soldiers were hit by allied bombs before charging through barbed-wire covered no-man’s land to attempt to take the undamaged German positions. The toll was horrendous. There were about 2700 New Zealand casualties which included about 950 men who were either dead or mortally wounded.
Peter Hobbs read Leonard Hart’s letter and was struck by the powerful imagery and honesty. The letter was smuggled back to Leonard’s family to avoid military censorship; Peter came across it and wanted to present Leonard’s words in a musical work to commemorate Passchendaele and the terrible sacrifice of so many young New Zealand men 100 years ago. Peter also has experienced a taste of war himself having spent time in Bosnia in 95-96, working on humanitarian and youth music projects.
“Dozens got hung up in the wire and shot down before their surviving comrades’ eyes. It was now broad daylight and what was left of us realised that the day was lost. We accordingly lay down in shell holes or any cover we could get and waited. Any man who showed his head was immediately shot. They were marvellous shots those Huns. We had lost nearly eighty per cent of our strength and gained about 300 yards of ground in the attempt. This 300 yards was useless to us for the Germans still held and dominated the ridge.” - Private Leonard Hart (Letter to family, October 1917)
About Peter Hobbs
Peter Hobbs is a NZ film composer and musician. He recently won a 2017 New York World Gold Medal for his score to the film Jean and he was a finalist for the 2017 Taite Music Awards for his psychedelic country band Lost Demos (Best Debut Release). He was also a finalist for the APRA Best Original Music in a Feature Film Award at the 2017 Silver Scrolls held in Dunedin.
Earlier this year Peter released the Lost Demos 4-track EP Viva Lost Demos, which was his first band release in 17 years, as his focus has been on making a living writing soundtracks for film, television, dance and art projects. His last album was with his Dunedin band Kitset, whose only album Testpot was released in 1999, and the same year a finalist for Best Rock/Pop Release, Best New Act and Best Independent Release at the 1999 BNet NZ Music Awards. Here’s the video for Lost Demos' first single, Fired Up for You, a dark alt-country sermon on troubled love.
Peter is currently working on an album based on the confessions of Richard Burgess, of the infamous Maungatapu Murders of 1866, which he plans to release early in 2018. He lives on the tiny Cornwallis (Karanga a Hape) peninsula in Waitakere with his wife and three daughters.
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