Archives for posts with tag: Auckland

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.

 

TupuhiDay 25 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand music month marathon comes from the suburban dub labs of Mark Tupuhi and the opening track from “the Deep End” – an ecclectic album of hypnotic psychedelic dub and electronic music. Here’s “Brevity” –

The album was an accidental discovery on bandcamp. “Overcome evil by dub” seems to be the entirely plausible theme of the opening track “Brevity” as it slowly unwinds with cut up voice samples and echoing delayed layers of guitar.

Usually the association of dub and reggae in NZ today is with the reductive pasteurised, homogenised mainstream-friendly “barbecue reggae” pop, a kind of audio head-nodding narcotic, where rhythm and formula is elevated above imagination.  That’s a long way from the adventurous spirit and imagination associated with reggae and dub in particular in the 1970s through to the 1990s.

Tupuhi’s DIY home recorded album “The Deep End” mostly avoids the contemporary NZ formula and takes the music in some unexpected directions at times. The combination of live and digital instruments and elements of dance and trance music is more reminiscent of the kind of sonic adventures of the On-U-Sound artists in the UK in the 90s.

As well as contemporary psychedelic dub like “Brevity” you’ll also find atmospheric industrial psy-trance on “Teradactyl” and even a kind of futurist post-punk electro-dub on “Malcolm”. It’s an album worth exploring further.

 

 

Doubleu_Quit cassette

Day 23 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon comes from Auckland bedroom recording artists-extraordinaire, the mysterious Doubleu. Here’s “Yr an Angle” –

“Yr an Angle” is a hypnotic pop gem, occupying similar territory to fellow Auckland DIY artist These Early Mornings but with a lot more odd layers of unconventional and experimental sound.

PopLib featured a track from Doubleu’s intriguing EP “Quit” last September. Since then two Doubleu EPs – “Quit” and “Wuss” – have been combined on a cassette release on Slovakian based cassette label Z Tapes.

Z Tapes is run by Filip Zemčík and his selections have acquired a large following… which means the strangely wonderful introverted DIY psych-pop of Doubleu has been heard and enjoyed by hundreds of people around the world.

Fazerdaze EP and LP 2017

Top left – the orginal hand-made CD-R EP (2014), lower left – the full CD ‘re-issue’ of the EP (2015), along with the “Morningside” LP (2017).

Day 12 of the 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month madness is a track from the just-released debut album “Morningside” by Fazerdaze. Here’s “Friends”

“Friends” takes the Fazerdaze template of brilliantly simple ingredients: layering guitar melody over a bass-line, and adding introspective lyrics. What happens next is uncharacteristic but exhilarating; engaging hyper-drive with a sonic chorus blast of fuzz guitarist and soaring melody.

That kind of 1, 2 punch from quiet to euphoric loud with lashings of melody is something late 1980s/ early 1990s Flying Nun Records label-mates The JPS Experience used to excel at too. In fact “Friends” would fit comfortably among the songs on their final album “Bleeding Star”.

PopLib tends to champion the underdog and you’d have to be hiding under a rock to not have heard a Fazerdaze song or seen an online article or review about the Auckland musician’s debut and current UK tour, such is the interest in the debut album. So this post is less about discovery of an under-appreciated musician as celebrating the achievement of someone championed here for the past 3 years.

PopLib first featured Fazerdaze back in 2014 when the first EP had it’s initial hand-made CD-R format release. It was clear right from the start that Amelia Murray’s low-key and personal music made a connection with listeners. By staying grounded and trusting her instincts to keep things understated and focus on self-recording her perfect introspective guitar-pop she’s created a wonderful first album that retains the essence of that first EP.

Fazerdaze EP and LP 2017

Top left – the orginal hand-made CD-R EP (2014), lower left – the full CD ‘re-issue’ of the EP (2015), along with the “Morningside” LP (2017).

These Early Mornings

Day 10 of the 31 days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon madness comes from Auckland outfit These Early Mornings and the gorgeously elliptical “Usually Waiting”.

The eponymous album is a lovely slice of wistful weirdness and rhythmically uplifting low-key stoned minimalist DIY recorded psychedelia. I loved it so much I tracked down one of a handful of lathe-cut 12″ copies of the album.

“Usually Waiting”, with it’s simple circular bass line under a single guitar chord and odd time signature captures the sleepy yet unconventional rhythmic and musical nature of the album. As noted on PopLib back in October 2016 –

“…the loopy, grainy minimalism of the songs and the time signatures …. makes this such a great collection of odd-pop. The closest thing to “Usually Waiting” and “Unco” for example is This Heat, and there’s a whiff of a folk Swell Maps to “Who Knows Nothing”.”

It’s well worth investing a moment of your time to listen to it and then download a copy.

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.

Peach Milk 2017Day 2 of the 31 Days of May for NZ Music Month 2017 and we head to Auckland and the studio of Peach Milk for “Super-Ambi”

Peach Milk’s “Finally” EP has been one of my most-played NZ releases for the past six months. It’s perfect for a variety of occasions. Late at night (mostly), early morning, sunshine, rain.

As noted back in October 2016 the music on the 5 track EP is superbly tasteful in the sounds and the moods created, the sheen and shimmer of the synth washes, the understated beats, and the icy ambient minimalism leaving space to set the mind free to wander and imagine.

“Super-Ambi” is the last track on the EP and the most recent recording of the set, indicating the future direction of Peach Milk. It’s a future we can’t wait to discover.