Archives for category: Dunedin Pop Underground

BediquetteWhat better way to celebrate 50 years since the release of The Beatles’ “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album than by picturing yourself on a shopping trolley stuck in Dunedin’s Leith River, plastic bags of yellow and white wrapped around the handle. You look for the the guy with a laptop and headphones making psychedelic glitch pop, and he’s gone. It’s Bediquette on PopLib with “Fracture”:

It’s 2017 and Abbey Road studio is a state of mind multiplied by a microprocessor chip in a laptop running recording software, a microphone and an audio interface going in, and a pair of headphones coming out, connected to someone with their head in the clouds, like Bediquette here.

“Fracture” is the gorgeous, dreamy middle track from a new three-song EP called “Looking, Not Listening” by Dunedin bedroom glitch-beat sound sculptor Bediquette, formerly known as Govrmint, as featured on PopLib back in February 2015.

There’s a little bit of the woozy saturation of Boards of Canada, but with a heart of the kind of fractured heartbreak pop of the experimental extreme of Sparklehorse’s orbit. The vocals are processed with distortion as a kind of protective shield perhaps to cocoon an introverted singer but it somehow manages to create an odd kind of digital intimacy.

“Looking, Not Listening” is a wonderful collection of warm, inventive melodic glitch-beat futuristic psychedelia. It’s very reflective and personal, but also expansive and propulsive. An essential trip into the inner space of a suburban Dunedin imagination.

Anything else? Yes, please:

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.

Ha the UnclearDay 16 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand Music month marathon comes from Auckland-via-Dunedin band Ha The Unclear. It’s a sickeningly good new single “Big City”

Ha The Unclear are the unchallenged masters of the NZ vernacular song in the same way that Courtney Barnett nails the philosophical minutiae of everyday Australia existence.

Ha The Unclear would no doubt appreciate if a bit of the fame and fortune and world tours of the feted Australian rubbed off on them. But here in NZ we are mostly still embarrassed about ourselves and our funny ex-cent and musicians who perform as their natural Nu Zild selves.

Actually, we are mostly still embarrassed about local musicians full stop. So embarrassed our commercial radio stations still prefer overseas sounds and locals who re-heat generic international sounds, justifying this on the basis “it’s what the public want” even though it must be hard to know what you want – what you really, really want – if you never hear it.

Not me. I’d much prefer a local song about the disconnection of people in big cities as told through the experience of narrator struggling to be a responsible first-responder putting a vomiting stranger on a bus in the recovery position so they don’t choke, while the rest of the indifferent human cargo shuffle off at the next stop. In the Big City, “everyone’s anonymous.” And all done with the wit and casual storytelling style of CB.

Ha The Unclear have songwriting and musical chops to spare.  “Big City” sparkles with the zip and zest of Squeeze and early Split Enz and the chorus is a A-grade earworm. C’mon New Zealand, don’t be anonymous.