Birchville Cat Motel – With Maples Ablaze (Scarcelight Recordings) 2004


Two of the first “out there” experimental/noise bands that I heard were the almight Yellow Swans and New Zealand’s Birchville Cat Motel, basically the alias of Campbell Kneale. Sadly both “bands” are now gone. They’re all still making records under different names and both bands left a legacy of fantastic records.

It’s worthwhile tracking down some of Birchville Cat Motel’s work because I think he is one of the few artists that managed to combine field recordings and drone so well that a menacing pastoral ambience is created.  BCM also straddled other genres. I’m a huge fan of his black metal/psych records like Bird Sister Blasphemy  and Astro Catastrophes but I think he did his finest work when he embraced the drone. Maybe With Maples Ablaze is my favourite record of his entire catalogue. I found this heavily discounted at my local record store a fortnight ago and I nearly wept when I found it.

Over its 10 untitled tracks Kneale creates extraordinary palettes of field recordings and drone.  With Maples Ablaze often sounds somewhere between KTL, Menche and ambient Kevin Drumm. It is superb and like just about everything BCM released now out of print. This record has inspired me to reconnect with the ten or so records of his that I own. There are some great records you need to track down but if the only thing you can find easily is Seventh Ruined Hex put your hand in your pocket. When I reviewed it a few years ago I was dismissive of it. I was wrong. As an aside – I don’t advocate this often but if you find a sneaky download of With Maples Ablaze start clicking. An important work from a band that shouldn’t be forgotten.

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4 Responses to “Birchville Cat Motel – With Maples Ablaze (Scarcelight Recordings) 2004”

  1. BCM did a collaboration with Yellow Swans on Important records a few yrs ago – good record, but not the best. The one I really like is BCM’s collaboration with Anla Courtis: Three Sparkling Echoes, released as CD on Celebrate Psi Phenomenon in 2007. It sounds very “rock-drone” oriented, a great album!

  2. Found a copy of this one, currently listening to it. Your comparison with KTL makes sense. This is a great record indeed! Maybe you need to check out the 2XCD Nmperign w/ Jason Lescalleet: “Love Me Two Times” as well. Different music (sax+trumpet+electronics) but a similar atmosphere.

  3. Haha, it’s times like this that I’m glad I live in a small NZ city… The local library has all of his CD’s! (He lives like five mins drive from here)

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