Archives for category: Dunedin Pop Underground

residue nzContinuing the instrumental guitar music theme from a few days ago, here’s something new from the darkest corners of Dunedin’s noise underground. This 5 track album – “Rotting In The Stomach of Melancholy” – by Residue is a dark, wordless masterpiece and our introduction is the symphonic melodic minimalism of the first track “You Are Missed”

“You Are Missed” is sombre and majestic with a heavy and dark grace. Guitar notes washed in cathedral reverb swell and fade and gentle waves of white noise ebb and flow. “Commit Your Body to Dust” is an even sparser but equally beautiful atmospheric drone before “You Are Mist” completes the mood by enveloping those swelling guitars in a sonic mist of white noise.

After this relative calm all hell breaks loose on the final two tracks and sonic metallurgists will rejoice. Dense layers of distorted guitars and feedback create two saturated epics. The final track – the album’s title track – is a churning, fiery monster, several atmospheres heavier than Fripp and Eno’s “An Index of Metals”, and fine material for readjusting the atomic structure of your brain via headphones.

It’s a self-contained sonic world that may not be for everyone, but is likely to appeal to fans of atmospheric sound explorers like Labradford and Stars of the Lid, and worth a visit by the adventurous, the curious and the brave.

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DSC07972Continuing PopLib’s  send as a gift tips for the month with the aching, mysterious dark beauty of stratchcona pl and “sadder endings” from the “holds and releases” EP:

While the sense of desolation, betrayal, loss and grief is palpable throughout this compelling EP it conveys a sense of “getting-through-this” rather than despair so essentially reflecting optimism with a collection of songs of sparse crafted beauty.

From the EP notes on Bandcamp:

“strathcona pl is crafting their silhouette in this balance of precision and distance. Just the name “Strathcona” seems so inhabitable and mappable: a suburb, a neighbourhood, a house. But as “strathcona” improper, where are we? We are drawn back into that same unsureness which permeates the artist’s characteristic sound. If “strathcona” isn’t a location or a proper noun, it must be an adjective; a feeling; a name to behold and release, then hold again.”

Recommended for – yourself…. Or to send as a gift to anyone else who needs it.

Shayne OffsiderHere’s PopLib’s 6th send as a gift tip for the month, featuring “Waiting Game” from Shayne P. Carter’s “Offsider” album.

Never one to rest in a comfortable spot musically speaking, proficient guitarist Carter (Bored Games, Doublehappys, Straitjacket Fits, Dimmer) set himself the challenge of mastering the piano. His approach is similar to his instinctive approach to the guitar – as much about sound, propulsion, atmosphere, and tension as it is about melody.

This song, and the whole “Offsider” album is recommended for anyone into seriously good, original, adventurous pop or rock music, for the person who annoys you by playing Scott Walker records too often and who you wish had something else to fixate on, and for that friend or relative who always goes on about the heyday of Flying Nun Records but stopped buying new music many years ago.

CoyoteHere’s some messed up underground psych-rock from Dunedin Coyote from their just-released album “Hotel for Dogs”. The song is “I Met Satan” and it draws together the spirit of Led Zeppelin and Guitar Wolf in the same song.

Dunedin is well known for some ‘sounds’, but the sound of unhinged, feral, primal energy rock’n’roll with lupine howl vocals is not really one of them. That’s usually the kind of thing you’d associate with, well, Christchurch, or Hamilton or even Auckland.  So Coyote are like a breath of chili & garlic-flavoured air down here.

“I Met Satan” stands out for some particularly glorious guitar riffing, but the whole album is a festival of wild-eyed home-baked psychedelic lo-fi guitar skronk and underground rock weirdness. Those familiar with classic 60s/70s guitar rock themes may recognise occasional glimpses of those past sounds even after they’ve gone through Coyote’s cosmic blender.

If you like what’s on offer here, then after you download Coyote’s album, also fill your ears with this 17-minute live-to-air freak-out video:

The Golden Awesome

The Golden Awesome is a ‘shoegaze’ guitar & keyboards band predominantly from Wellington, NZ. They released an album called “Autumn” in 2011 on the US M’Lady’s Records label which is a bit hard to find round these parts now. Here’s the title track which opens the album:

Although ‘shoegaze’ tends to be the genre most often used in relation to The Golden Awesome there is a healthy a dose of The Jesus and Mary Chain about the crushing bass guitar and swarming feedback guitar drones here as well as the kind of swooping sonic overload and sweet melody associated with heavy shoegaze favourites My Bloody Valentine.

That mix of crushing saturated walls of glorious noise and breath-taking dream-pop melody is a feature of the album. The keyboards and the distinctive harmoniser processed vocals are from Dunedin musician Stef Animal and you can find out more about who else is in this low-key band in this rare UTR interview.

Here’s the wonderful trippy video for “Autumn” too:

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Port Chalmers with seafog

Reminded of Seafog today because the meteorological phenomena caused by warm moist air passing over cool sea has been hanging around the coast near Dunedin all day and because of an afternoon trip to Port Chalmers, which is the home town of the trio called Seafog. Came home and played their very fine 12″ EP/ mini album released earlier this year on Zelle Records called “Dig It On Up” and this track “Division” stood out.

If you love Dunedin music, or NZ guitar rock you really (and I mean REALLY) need this EP/ mini album. It has that kind of Velvet Underground “I Can’t Stand It” propulsion, but filtered through The Clean’s motorik fuzzy strum.

Lyrically it is a typically delightful existential treat reflecting on friendship and memory, referencing back to NZ’s fascination with Joy Division in the early 1980s.

“Unknown Pleasure” album was #1 in NZ’s album charts in 1979 and “Closer” was #3 a year later. Single “Transmission” was #2 in the NZ singles chart in 1979 while “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Atmosphere”/ “She’s Lost Control” were both #1 singles in the NZ singles chart in 1980.

A street art memorial from 1981 dedicated to Ian Curtis has persisted in Wellington despite repeated attempts by the Council to paint it over.  Seafog would approve.

AJ Sharma

“Red is the Colour” is a wonderfully odd, unsettling and dark track from the new album “Tabla Diablo” by Dunedin avant-folk musician AJ Sharma.

If very early Bonnie “Prince” Billy/ Palace Brothers is your thing, or the singular vision of Dunedin’s Alastair Galbraith, step right into the world of AJ Sharma. He’s a fellow traveler in fractured and direct outsider music, played simply, obeying no rules save the ones he makes himself.  Guitar, voice, and the atmosphere created by those sounds vibrating the air in a room, as recorded expertly in its raw honesty by Forbes Williams.

“Red is the Colour” features an additional vocalist adding a kind of ghostly backing vocal. It sounds like a very small child. It’s more unsettling than cute though, possessing the song with an disturbing otherness. Perfect of course for the atmosphere of an AJ Sharma album, described by label CocoMuse Releases as: “An assemblage of real life characters all dealing with death in their own way: Art Teachers, Outsiders, Rock-Gods, Poets, Prophets, Trees, Stars, Tortoise, Bar-Flies, Friends, Family, Cosmic Forces, Visionaries and the Unknown.”

I have a 7″ lathecut by AJ from over 20 years ago, recorded in Invercargill, release 1994. In between times he has been part of the fabulous late 1990s/ early 2000s Dunedin band Jetty and released an album called “Santo” in 2008 “The Road Back” in 2010 and “You are a Traveler” in 2013.  There have been other small run lathe cut singles and tracks on compilations… usually hard to find.

AJ Sharma’s “Tabla Diablo” album (LP) is available in Europe from Zelle Records and in NZ and the rest of the world from CocoMuse Releases.