i e crazy LP frontandbackDay 9 of the 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month madness comes from the extraordinary new album “Non Compos Mentis” by i. e. crazy. Here’s “The Slow Weight”

“The Slow Weight” is a gothic-dark tale of New Zealand underworld. There’s thematic links in the songs of i. e. crazy on the album to NZ’s “Cinema of Unease” style of darkly unsettling film-making and some of the darkest NZ literature. In particular Ronald Hugh Morrieson, a writer in the New Zealand vernacular, whose novels contain “trademark preoccupations …. of sex, death, mateship, voyeurism, violence, booze and mayhem in bleak small town New Zealand – along with his irreverent black humour” [in New Zealand Film 1912–1996 by Helen Martin and Sam Edwards].  It’s a summary that could almost equally describe i. e. crazy and “Non Compos Mentis” as an album.

That kind of gothic-dark shadow self aspect of the New Zealand psyche was also a prominent feature of the post-punk music scene here in the 1980s. Anyone familiar with legendary New Zealand bands like This Kind of Punishment, Children’s Hour, Headless Chickens and The Skeptics will recognise some themes and a desire to provoke by picking at the scab of unhealed wounds in New Zealand society we’d prefer to keep under bandages lest they frighten off the tourists.

“Non Compos Mentis” sees i. e. crazy (Maggie Magee, the alter-ego of Claire Duncan) take these themes of disturbance, disorder, drama, dislocation and death and make them her own. It’s a richly detailed album – words and music – and a powerful creative statement.

“The Slow Weight” is a good example of the storytelling and the music on the album. The unconventional instrumentation, including woodwind sounds from Shab Orkestra adds much to the threatening textured oddness of the atmosphere created. It’s a whole brave new world from Claire’s first band Dear Time’s Waste to be sure, yet on this song it’s still possible to trace the melodic link between the two entities.

“Non Compos Mentis” is available from Muzai Records on LP.