SachetIt’s been a while since we checked in on Sydney underground pop label Strange Pursuits. Turns out there’s a log jam of snappy punk-edged melodic garage-pop waiting for our ears. Here’s the thrilling staccato blast of Sachet with “Melted Wires”:

It says “First ‘single’ from debut LP ‘Portion Control’ by Sydney outfit Sachet. LP due August 2017 on Strange Pursuits.”  On the strength of “Melted Wires” that Sachet LP will be top of the PopLib shopping list come August.

Sachet are Lani Crooks and Sam Wilkinson of Day Ravies along with Nick Webb and Chris Anstis. “Melted Wires” continues in a similar vein to the compulsively melodic earworm guitar-pop template perfected by Day Ravies on their fabulous “Liminal Zones” album, but now stripped back to barking guitar, sparse keyboard, crunching drums and voices.

It’s cracking stuff – the guitar in the verses evokes the spirit of Dr Feelgood’s Wilko Johnson and the song charges along with the feral energy of an early Fall 7″ with Crooks delivering a crisp and threatening vocal.

Perfect as all that sounds, the chorus flips the song into lush melodic pop with layered vocal harmonies. Add in an instrumental bridge pulling post-punk shapes and angles, and you’ve got the kind of inventive bittersweet garage-pop genius which makes you hit ‘repeat’ again and again. Can’t wait to hear more from Sachet.

 

 

SaturationsHere’s an atypical track called “Run Electro” from a new album called “Saturations” by New Brighton, Christchurch musician Blair Parkes.

“Run Electro” is an attention-grabbing song, bursting with luminous colour and surging along on an insistent rumbling bass line with phased distorted organ swirls, like a kind a super-charged Stereolab on steroids.

It’s a bit of an odd one out on a curiously sequenced album which seems to morph from reflective guitar folk-pop at the start into more effect-driven shoegaze territory before exploring even deeper into electronic synth-pop.  It’s not the sort of album you can dip into for a quick listen here and there and come away with a sense of what it is all about. It rewards the full journey.

“Saturations” is a curiously timeless collection of songs. The first 4 songs of the songs could fit comfortably in the late 80s/ early 90s NZ/ Australian reflective guitar pop scene, while the second half of the album crackles with more electronic energy, sometimes reminiscent of UK synth-pop band Frazier Chorus.  Both halves of the album are bursting with fine songs.

 

Listening to this Blair Parkes album has sent me on a trip back to NZ pop underground of the late 1980s. Keen students of obscure Flying Nun Records releases may recognise Blair from All Fall Down (FN0989) and The Letter 5 (FN169).

Parkes’ blog post here on the All Fall Down years is also a fascinating insight into the life of a young musician playing in an obscure ‘2nd wave’ Flying Nun Records band in the mid to late 1980s in New Zealand.

As a bonus here’s the Bats-meets-Triffids styled perfection of All Fall Down’s “Black Gratten” from 1987:

 

 

 

nhung-nguyen“Bittersweet” is one of 7 tracks on a new EP called “An Ordinary Narrative” by Hanoi based musician/ composer Nhung Nguyen.

Nhung Nguyen creates atmospheric ambient instrumental music combining acoustic and electronic instruments along with field recordings. This new EP “An Ordinary Narrative” continues a recent theme of using piano as the sole instrument. The simplicity and minimalism may be “an ordinary narrative” but it is heavy with echoes of a ghostly, partially remembered past.

The piano is a perfect universal instrument for conveying a sense of memory,  as well as feelings of nostalgia, regret, happiness, hope… whatever we project on, or draw out of each recording.

The use of field recordings of public pianos, sometimes with their own imperfect out-of-tune character, and then post-production adding the reverb and delay adds to the dream-like nature of these pieces. The magic here is not so much the moment each note is struck but what happens in the space that follows, before the next note arrives.

In “Bittersweet” the occasional background of street noise from passing cars grounds the music at an unknown place and in a point of time. It adds to the atmosphere, the imperfection and to the intrigue. It’s a bit like the music equivalent of watching a flickering old Super-8 film home movie projected onto sun-faded wallpaper.

 

 

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.

Annabel Alpers by Mike Hughes

Annabel Alpers [photo by Mike Hughes]

“The only way to see you is through the whole in my chest” sings Bachelorette, AKA Annabel Alpers on “Blanket”

The throbbing, pulsating synth-heavy “Blanket” is from the last Bachelorette album, a self-titled release on Drag City Records from 2011.

Formerly of Christchurch, NZ and living in Baltimore in the US for the past 4 years, Annabel Alpers – ex-Bachelorette” – is crowdfunding for an intriguing sounding new recording project called “Remote”

This project is about exploring the beauty of sound, to create a live sonic experience that encompasses you, the audience, and is as cathartic for you to listen to as it is for me to make. I’m inspired by the beauty of my remote homeland, New Zealand, which I miss so much when I’m away.  I’m also inspired to find beauty in parts of everyday life – patterns and forms, mundanity, longing, excitement, nature (tamed and untamed), connections, fragility… (the list is endless) – and attempt to communicate this awe to you, through music.

Remote is a live, multiple-speaker, surround-sound experience. My intention is for you to be enveloped in beautiful sounds and emerge from your comfortable listening space transformed – your heart aflutter… 

RangitotoDay 31 of our 31 days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon closes the set of songs with something only a few days old from Auckland shoegaze ensemble Couchmaster. Here’s “Honey over Thunder” from a 5 song EP called “Tumor” released on 25 May.

I was going to select the opening track “Psychogenic Fugue” because it is dedicated to Dunedin music legend Peter Gutteridge and packs that familiar Snapper drone and drumbeat. But for the closing song for this year’s NZ music month trawl through the wonderful online underground of Bandcamp I couldn’t go past “Honey Over Thunder” with it’s wistfully melodic vocal from drummer Rachel Charlie and effortless reverb drenched psychedelia.

The EP is a wonderfully eclectic mix of guitar rock heavy on the atmospheric effects. It appears to be mostly the project of Rikki Sutton, from another shoegaze style Auckland band Eyes No Eyes. He’s guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and vocalist on most of the tracks as well as engineering and mixing the recording. Rachel Charlie on drums and vocals and Adison Whitley on guitar are the other two people who play on all the tracks. Extra points for naming the band after a great album by The Bats too.

 

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.