Archive for the The Dead C 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.

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.

Gate – The Dew Line (Mie Music) 2012

Posted in Drone, Gate, Music, The Dead C with tags , on April 11, 2012 by noisenoisenoise

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Gate is the name used for the Dead C’s Michael Morley’s solo output. A few years ago I was lucky enough  to get a copy of his remarkable electronica infused record, Republic of Sadness. That record was a strange yet totally compelling blend of Morley’s wonky, codeine-infused, lo-fi vocals with almost Hot Chip style electronica. On paper it shouldn’t have worked but it was one of my favourite records of 2010. The excellent Mie Music have taken it upon themselves to re-release The Dew Line which originally came out in 1994 and is a very different from his most recent work. Mie Music have put a lot of thought into rereleasing this record and it now appears as a double vinyl set, remastered, with its initial seven tracks expanded to twelve to include some other previously unreleased material recorded about the same time. If you are a Dead C fan there is a treat in store with the unreleased tracks because three of them ended up as Dead C tracks  including the almighty Bitcher (from 1995’s Whitehouse)yet on The Dew Line  appear in a prototype form. This record has a great deal in common with the Dead C’s material from the same time period which I have always considered to be among their best. The Dew Line find Morley exploring his repetitive guitar lines and outsider vocals which no one could mistake for anybody else. Yet throughout these utterly unique songs  there are glimmers of Sonic Youth style tunings  and even a little Pavement-like song craft. Beyond those thoughts it very difficult to describe this claustrophobic, chaotic, almost on the brink of collapse experimental rock music. It is music that has to be experienced to appreciate and I recommend you do just that. The Dew Line is  an absolute pleasure from beginning to end and is well worth tracking down in it’s remastered form.

The Dead C – Patience (Ba Da Bing) 2010

Posted in Music, noise, The Dead C with tags , , on September 13, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

I was having a drink with a newly acquired friend that I’ve met through the kindy our kids go to. We got onto the subject of music and I told him about this blog. His taste is pretty mainstream and it’s always awkward trying to explain to someone why noise is so special and the sort of records that I review here.  He’s an ex-pat New Zealander so in order to find mutual ground I told him how much I loved the Dead C. “Those old guys?” he said “Jesus. Are they still around.” We then moved onto the topic of the dearth of new ideas in music and left the topic of the Dead C hanging. In many ways the point he was trying to make is proven with Patience. There are no startling new ideas on this record. This is classic Dead C, but it still absolutely shits all over much else of what is being released at the moment.

On October 12th this gets released. If you are a follower of this band you will know that there is no other band that sounds like the Dead C. Whether they’re doing Sonic Youth style avant rock, experimental improv or extended lo-fi jams they still sound like the Dead C. Dead C records have this foggy, lo-fi beauty to them – like three blokes one day sat in someone’s garage and fire up the tape recorder. This is part of their charm and without it the band wouldn’t be the same.

After the excellent career spanning Vain, Erudite and Stupid compilation the band seemed to get a new lease of life. Besides some vinyl reissues of some long out of print records, the Dead C as a creative unit picked up momentum again. Their first original release on Ba Da Bing was Future Artists which was probably one of their most difficult listens. Secret Earth came out a year or so later with a more song orientated approach combined with stacks of classic Dead C moments and Michael Morley’s distinctive moan. Patience follows a similar path to Secret Earth – extended, droning, avant-rock jams, but on Patience the vocals are left out of  the mix. It is a bit more difficult than Secret Earth but a much easier to listen to than Future Artists. In many ways this might be the most social record they’re done in a while whilst keeping all of their difficult lo-fi charm.

If you are a Dead C fan then I am preaching to the converted – I guarantee that you’ll love it. For those that have never heard the band, this is as good a place as any to start. A fantastic record in any language.

Gate – Republic of Sadness (Ba Da Bing) 2010

Posted in Drone, Gate, Music, The Dead C with tags , , , , , on July 20, 2010 by noisenoisenoise

From the outset I should tell you that Gate is the side project of one Michael Morley who you may know from his other band, The Dead C. This is being released in a week or so on vinyl by the always excellent Ba Da Bing records. I managed to snag a review copy a couple of weeks ago and well let me put it this way; what would you expect from a record by a bloke from the Dead C. Some avant garde, lo fi, rock experimentation perhaps? Well so did I. This is the first time I’ve heard a Gate record and what I wasn’t fucking expecting is an album of downbeat, popish electronica. The first time I played this I was walking around my neighbourhood late at night. When the music  started, it took me by surprise so much that I checked my ipod to see that I hadn’t inadvertently started some Hot Chip record or something. Seriously. There are some genuinely funky beats in here especially on the third track Desert which had some major f.u.n.k. going on and the final track Trees which sounds like that overtly sentimental, continental techno so beloved by Germans. But you know its Michael Morley because that voice weaves in and out of the tracks like a confused dementia patient on codeine and jam. The lyrics, when I was able to pick them out, bring a melancholic edge to the whole thing. It’s hard to shake you ass when Morley sings about being unable to stop war and something about corruption.

So how am I really supposed to take this? Is it some post modern examination of the shallowness of body music or is it a record by a genuine fan of pop and beat looking for an outlet? In the end I don’t think it matters because I enjoyed this so much I’m worried by noise cred might be at an end. Republic of Sadness is all loops, pop, beats, a smattering of drone and that voice. It’s the most depressing time you’ll ever have shaking your ass.

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.

Derek Rogers – Color Shield (Last Exit Recordings) 2009

Posted in Derek Rogers, Drone, Music, noise, The Dead C with tags , on June 19, 2009 by noisenoisenoise

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Today I’ve noticed that the Dead C fans are hitting this blog more than they have for some time. I look back on the posts I’ve done on that band and I think many of them really don’t do the band justice but hey this isn’t really a review blog, it’s more a “holy crap you need to hear this” type of thing. So in that vein I introduce you to the mighty Derek Rogers an avant garde musician from that hot bed of conservatism Austin, Texas. Derek has an excellent myspace page that you should check out and while you’re there throw him a couple of bucks for Color Shield because it, quite simply, is on my favourite records I’m playing right now. Although the music of the  Dead C might be difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t heard it, once you do you know instantly what a unique  and defining racket they make. Derek certainly hearlds the Dead C as an influence which is awesome to hear because the only other band that gives me that Dead C vibe is late period Mouthus. But Derek also manages to squeeze  a bit of a Vibracathedral Orchestra vibe into Color Shield’s amalgam  of  drones, lo-fi antipodean punk, noise and  kitchen sink-improv clatter. My listening preferences seem to have solidified on drone and Merzbow in recent months and Derek’s work has slapped me back into getting those Dead C records back out for another play. If I was writing for the Wire I might try to make parallels between the social conservatism of Austin and Dunedin but it’s late and frankly I’m drunk. If you’re lucky enough to live in California, Derek is touring and you’d be silly to miss it.

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