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Heliotropic is a recording, performance and songwriting project of Barton McGuire, formed in 2016 and based in Wellington, New Zealand.

With this project I attempt to reconcile my interests in the music of the Folk revival of the 1960s and the Shoegaze movement of the 80s and 90s. Through the use of electronics, including a few homemade/modified devices, I've developed a style of live performance that incorporates both traditional acoustic instrumentation, and entirely abstract, ambient, ethereal sounds derived from that instrumentation. These sounds contrast and compliment one another, creating a rich and perhaps surprising result. I greatly enjoy deviating from the expectations of a singer-songwriter by stepping onstage with a small acoustic instrument and then using it to create a wall of electronic sound.

While the songs are founded in their simple live arrangement of vocals, guitar/ukulele, and live electronics, in the studio I can express alternative visions of the songs. I construct deeper arrangements using a wide variety of instruments and percussion, drawing on more influences including 1980's New Wave, modern Indie Rock, and occasionally experimental ambient and noise.

The songs I'm currently writing focus on historical mystery and matters of paranormal, cryptozoological, and conspiratorial speculation. From the unexplained disappearence of the famous aviator Amelia Earhart, to the unlikely contents of (and even more unlikely public reaction to) the photograph known as the Solway Firth Spaceman, to the miracles (or mass hysteria) experienced by the thousands gathered at Cova Da Iria, Portugal during the supposed Miracle of the Sun... these are events over which there is disagreement as to exactly what occured.

I generally don't prescribe to outlandish conspiracy theories, nor do I look to ghosts or UFOs to explain events I don't understand. Nonetheless I'm captivated by these stories because of the reactions and interpretations they inspire. In our world of constant information there's so little room for doubt and wonder. When something happens that we don't understand I greatly enjoy the not-knowing. Even more so I enjoy and am thrilled by the wild and fantastic explanations that others come up with. They look at the ambiguity of these events and see in them their fantasies, hopes, fears, and suspicions. They see what they want to see. Through these reactions to historical mystery we get a candid and colourful glimpse at the power and unpredictability of the human imagination.



Heliotropic performing in Seattle, WA
Photo by Justin Minich
Heliotropic performing at the High Dive in Seattle
Photo by Justin Minich
Heliotropic performing at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA
Photo by Alexa Chihos
Barton rides through a tunnel of light in Wellington


Get in touch via email at: heliotropic.music [at] gmail [dot] com
or on facebook: Heliotropic on Facebook