Archives for category: Dunedin Pop Underground

OV Pain_LPDunedin keyboard/ drum/ voices dueo OV Pain have just released the LP format of their dark and thrillingly weird first album and it’s something to behold. Here’s the wonderful “Soon to Be” to draw you in to their (under)world:

The album was recorded at the Anteroom in Port Chalmers and mixed and mastered by local legend Forbes Williams. OV Pain are Renee Barrance (Élan Vital) and Tim Player (Opposite Sex).

The more-or-less-live recording in a big hall gives it a real sense of space and place – simultaneously open and echoing but also imbued with the chill and claustrophobia of some large underground crypt, where these dark tales and timeless sounds are performed with a kind of chanting, ritualistic possession.

This is haunted music, lost souls finding other lost souls, meditations on the darkness around us and within us.  It’s a bit theatrical and weird, mixing post-punk, psychedelia, prog-rock, synth-pop, with magic and witchcraft.

Gloominess has never sounded this colourful, this alive, this thrilling and this essential.

Grawlixes_Good ShadowWellington-by-way-of-Dunedin duo Grawlixes have just released their debut album “Set Free” and it’s a bittersweet reflection on life and love and coming together and moving apart. Hard to pick a representative tune, but I’ve always loved “Good Shadow” so here we go:

“Good Shadow” also exists as a song on the 2nd album by The Prophet Hens, a band Robin Cederman and Penelope Esplin have been part of in Dunedin for several years. A sign of a great song is how well it works in different settings.

The album is beautifully crafted folk-influenced pop. The minimalism of guitar and melancholy accordian is augmented with some fine sonic touches from electric guitar and also violin arrangements from Alex Vaatstra. But the real heart and soul of the album is the pairing of the voices of Penelope and Robin.

To illustrate all the above here’s another song – “Darling” – which is also familiar from The Prophet Hens live set, but which was never recorded by that band:

 

Pesk“Forests” is the opening track from an 8-song mini-album called “Ground” by Port Chalmers-based dark and doomy shoegaze duo Pesk.

There’s an atmosphere of dark magic throughout the whole album, and this opening track is a sublime starting point for your journey into Pesk’s world.

The trademark Pesk fuzzed out reverb sludge-guitar fills this dark forest like a dense fog, while those crunching syn-drums are like a giant’s foot-steps. The shimmering keyboards, Nico-esque vocal and then that unexpectedly exultant chorus melody provide the transcendent touches to a spellbinding song.

The rest of the album continues with a similar strong and uncompromising tone.  They refer to their sound as combination of shoegaze, industrial and cold wave but there’s also a fair chunk of stentorian doom-laden metal about the rumbling density of their sound.

Surfdog_seafog12Day 30 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon comes from Port Chalmers (above), formerly home to Xpressway Records and still home to many Dunedin musicians. Here’s local musician Francisca Griffin with “Falling Light” –

If you are thinking “that sounds a bit like Look Blue Go Purple” then that may be because two of the three musicians playing on this track are former members of Look Blue Go Purple. Francisca Griffin was Kathy Bull back then, and she’s joined here by LBGP guitarist Kath Webster.

The third musician is drummer Gabriel Griffin – Francisca’s son. You’d normally hear him providing the scattershot rhythms behind the inimitable free-form experimental improv drum & woodwind ensemble Sewage.

“Falling Light” has the kind of freshness and instantly recognisable light and airy guitar tones of its place of origins. Psychedelic folk perhaps, Southern NZ style, and in some respects as reminiscent of David Kilgour’s solo music as it is of LBGP.

It’s a track from a forthcoming album set for release on CocoMuse Releases this year.

Otago Harbour deep blueDay 29 of our 31 days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon comes from Dunedin’s hyper-melodic guitar-powered band Males, with a song from their 2016 album “None the Wiser” – here’s “Popeye” –

If you don’t already have the album, head to their Bandcamp post-haste and add it to your collection. While the band are in recess the main songwriter Richard Ley-Hamilton is still busy creating music as Asta Rangu so keep your ears peeled for more from this particular pool of talent.

 

Devine.jpgDay 28 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon comes from Dunedin electronic pop newcomer Devine with the epic Gold Class pop of “Novel” –

This single has been getting a bit of local press recently and you can hear why. It’s classy well-crafted pop channeling a bit of Bond movie-theme grandeur and the electronica coolness of Goldfrapp.

The music has the darkness and texture of a thriller movie soundtrack and that undercurrent works perfectly with the character of the vocals.

The song is written and sung by by Molly Devine, and the music produced by Maddy Parkins-Craig. Some have said it’s the lack of ambition that gives Dunedin music its unique sound and feel. There’s much to be said for having ambition though as this Devine single shows.

DATM SkullsDay 26 of the 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon is a contemporary Dunedin classic from Death And The Maiden called “Skulls”

“Skulls” is a remarkable song on an album of remarkable music which can take a while to reveal subtleties and hidden emotional depths. The words here and their delivery, the way the song slowly builds through an ebb and flow of mesmerising woven pattern of guitars and bass over minimal electronic beats and synth wash, then kicks up a gear with a melodic change and builds to an intense and noisy climax before subsiding.  Just perfect…

“Skulls” is from the self-title debut album by the band not named after the title of the Dunedin single everyone thinks they must be named after.  The members of Death And The Maiden are Lucinda King (bass and vocals), Hope Robertson (guitars, drums, vocals) and Danny Brady (synths and electronic sounds).

The album is part electronica – slow dance/ trance arpeggio synth lines and clattering percussion – and part futuristic post-punk guitars and bass. But it’s the human heart of the voices which bind it all together into something special and unique, creating a world in which it is possible to lose yourself for 40 minutes in music that is dark and melancholy but also mysterious, coolly beautiful and, ultimately, positive and uplifting.

Or, as one Bandcamp purchaser said in a more succinct summary of the album’s charms “It’s great for dancing and crying and everything in between.” Indeed it is.