Archive for the New Zealand Bands Category

The Dead C – Armed Courage (Ba Da Bing) 2013

Posted in New Zealand Bands, The Dead C on September 1, 2013 by noisenoisenoise

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Armed Courage is the first The Dead C record since the release of Patience in 2010.  Although both Michael Morley through his Gate project, and Bruce Russell with what seems like a million collaborations, have been keeping busy,  it’s taken a whole three years for them to get together and make a new Dead C record. Has it been worth the wait?  Abso-fucking-lutely. 

I ve been listening to this record for the past few weeks whilst I have been in quarantine because of a nasty  virus I picked up off one of my kids. My cabin fever allowed me to spend a good period of time going back through the band’s releases since their re-emergence with the amazing Vain Erudite and Stupid compilation in 2006. Armed Courage is more closely aligned with Secret Earth and Patience rather then the more difficult Future Artists. 

Armed Courage contains two twenty minute long tracks. The first one Armed is a mesmerising instrumental  swirl of droning rock guitar and primitive Sonic Youth avant noodling. Robbie Yeats drums dive in and fade out of the track at regular intervals. It may be my favourite Dead C track since Bitcher from 1995’s The White  House. The second track Courage starts out very differently with a quiet menacing ambiance overlaid with Michael Morley’s vocals which sound like a brain injured every-dude overdosed on codeine before the driving, rocked-out drone, kicks in. It is great and has moments which actually outstrip Armed.

Armed Courage  is a cracking record and it may also be the best recorded album they’ve released to date. If you have never heard the band before then this is a great place to start. These guys may just be getting better and better.

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Bruce Russell and Roy Montgomery – Split (Grapefruit Records) 2012

Posted in Bruce Russell, Music, New Zealand Bands, noise, Roy Montgomery, The Dead C with tags , , , , on April 28, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

This vinyl release is coming out on Grapefruit Records. a subscription style label in the vein of Three Lobed. On this release we find two of the towering giants of the New Zealand underground. The Pin Group’s Roy Montgomery and the Dead C’s Bruce Russell. My love of the New Zealand  avant garde music scene should be of no real surprise to regular readers but I had very different reactions to the two tracks on this album.

Lets deal with the track that confused me. Bruce Russell’s track is titled Mistah Chilton, He Dead. I’ve listened to it a stack of times. In the car on the way to the tip, through headphones on a long walk and at the supermarket and a few times after my kids have gone to sleep and the house is quiet.  There is no doubt that it is a tricky track to write about let alone come to terms with. There is a squealing, frantic quality to the sound that during its earlier stages reminded me a little of some of John Zorn’s more brutal outings. It sure as shit ain’t the Dead C. It has a bit of the lo-fi about it, it’s not exactly drone but it is not noise as many of us understand it. It has its charms (especially the last seven minutes) but I didn’t a great deal of pleasure from it. And goddamn it, if there is no pleasure in noise then what is the fucking point. I felt the same way about Russell’s work in A Handful of Dust. I just didn’t get it. I am obviously the wrong audience.

The flip side by Roy Montgomery is a very different sound altogether. This is pure chiming guitar drone pleasure. Emotional melodies float over the top to create quasi folk-like psychedelia. It is absolutely gorgeous – an avant garde take on emotion and bliss. Pure pleasure.

I am keen to read other reviews of Bruce Russell’s track. I may be missing something. I’m just not sure what it is.

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

Posted in Birchville Cat Motel, Drone, Music, New Zealand Bands, noise with tags , , , , on February 26, 2011 by noisenoisenoise

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.

Rosy Parlane – Jessamine (Touch) 2006

Posted in Drone, Music, New Zealand Bands with tags , , , on June 14, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

Last year I saw New Zealand’s Rosy Parlane play at the Open Frame Night at the Brisbane Powerhouse. For thirty  minutes his beautiful, elegiac, organic, ambient drone washed across the space which, as an aside, was a nice break from the previous act, Ilios, who tried to suck all the oxygen out of the room with his nasty oscillations. But like many things  as fragile and lovely as Parlane’s music, it took me a while to fully absorb just how great his music is. Jessamine is the most recent CD Parlane has released. He is much like many of the other Touch artists , say Fennesz and Oren Ambarchi, not exactly prolific. What you do get, like his label mates, is an extraordinary quality. Jessamine is a record that I keep coming back to. He may have fallen under your radar and that would be a shame. As good as Kevin Drumm’s Imperial Horizon. No shit.

The Dead C – Eusa Kills (Flying Nun) 1989

Posted in Music, New Zealand Bands, noise, The Dead C with tags , , , on August 16, 2009 by noisenoisenoise

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If you discount the Merzbow posts, The Dead C are probably the band that I post on the most. The vast majority of their back catalogue have come out on very cool Siltbreeze and in recent years badabing records. This record (probably their first proper record) was released on the mighty Flying Nun in 1989. Now I have been a label whore in the past but one of the labels that I never really got into was Flying Nun. I had a friend who was though, and anything by The Verlaines, The Bats, The Chills, The Clean and the John Paul Sartre Experience were greedily snapped up by him. I always thought that a lot of the Flying Nun stuff was a bit too clever and  sometimes a little too pop for my liking. Now if I had heard Eusa Kills sometime before 2007  my opinion might have changed a bit.

This is commonly referred to as The Dead C’s pop record and if you listen to the first track you kind of get the shambolic, free form,  Sonic Youth vibe that very few bands pull off. But this the Dead C and it’s never going to be a very easy listen although maybe it is the easiest thing to get into. I also think that the Sonic Youth comparison’s have been a bit overstated. Sure there are some tracks which channel that Bad Moon Rising and Evol vibe but for the most part The Dead C  travel their own path. The highlights are the awesome Maggot which has always been one of my favourite Dead C tracks, the ultra Sonic Youthy Envelopment and the album opener Scarey Nest. They even manage to spew out a cover of Children of the Revolution but out of tune, slowed down and all over the place. The impact of a band live Deac c is indisputable. Think where bands like Mouthus would be without their influence. Eusa Kills is also probably the least experimental record they released and the closest to a rock album as they ever got. I wonder what the Flying Nun groupies thought about it at the time.

The CD of this is sadly out of print although Ba Da Bing recently  re-released it along with the Helen Said This 12″. Why no-one has re-released on CD is beyond me because more people need to hear this record. The best starting point is still Vain, Erudite and Stupid their two CD Best of released in 2007 but if you manage to track a copy of this down just buy it, you won’t be disappointed. My copy is the 1992 release which has some snappy liner notes from Tom Lax Which are pretty cool.

Black Boned Angel – Verdun (Riot Season) 2009

Posted in Birchville Cat Motel, Black Boned Angel, Doom, Music, New Zealand Bands with tags , , , , , on July 21, 2009 by noisenoisenoise

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As some of you may know, Campbell Kneale, Mr Birchville Cat Motel himself hung up his feline moniker at the end of last year to focus on his new project Our Love will Destroy The World. The good news is that his side project Black Boned Angel continues to go on strongly. I was a huge fan of his BCM project yet had never dabbled with  Campbell’s drone-metal project, Black Boned Angel, a trio of Wellington musicians which includes James Kirk and Jules Desmond.. Fuck knows why really because I absolutely loved BCM’s Bird Sister Blasphemy. This, the band’s latest release on the awesome Riot Season, is an absolute gem. In fact it may be one of the finest doom records I have ever heard. The album itself lists three tracks but they are pressed as one continuous track. The titles references the battle of Verdun during World War One which claimed 250 000 lives. The thing I find interesting about the title is how tragic, military misadventures are a huge feature of schooling in the Antipodes and battles such as Gallipoli are etched into the psyche of most Australians and New Zealanders. Our understanding of  war is sober, without glory and critical of the folly of war.  In listening to Verdun it makes sense that the conflict is scored through crunching Sunn O))) riffs and futile drones. What lifts this above your average drone record is the addition of an operatic chorus belting out Wagnerian funereal hymns underneath the wall of crushing guitars. The effect is magic and somehow a natural fit for the horror that was Verdun. This record comes across a lot like Gorecki’s Misere on steroids. Riot Season are only releasing 1000 copies of this and you’d be smart to get one before they sell out.  One of the best albums of 2009 so far.

Birchville Cat Motel – Gunpowder Temple of Heaven (Pica Disk) 2008

Posted in Birchville Cat Motel, Drone, Music, New Zealand Bands, noise with tags , , , on March 2, 2009 by noisenoisenoise

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Now this is a treat for the Birchville Cat Motel and/or drone fan. In term so of the  music what you get  is one 40 minute track of sublime drone/noise. I’ve always migrated towards Campbell Kneales more rock base noise projects rather than his forays into a pure, minimalist drone. Gunpowder Temple of Heaven may have finally converted me and over the next couple of weeks I’m going to re-listen to all of the BCM recods that I already own to get a sense of where this fits in. Another treat for fans of BCM and New Zealand underground music in general, is  the essay by the Dead C’s Bruce Russell that accompanies the beautiful and thoughtful packaging of this record. I’ll quote:

” Thus for me, Gunpowder Temple of Heaven is a complex cluster of metaphors: linguistic, historical and musical. the proof, however, is in the pudding. It is the psychotropic effects of listening to this carefully laminated composition which makes it clear that there is in fact more than accidental confluence of image and sound. What you see and hear is , remarkably, exactly what you get – a consciousness-capturing dose of sounds that grips your skull like an abductor’s taped-on mask. I personally recommend it.”

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