Archives for posts with tag: Dunedin music

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.

 

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Strathcona pl EPFollowing on from “seams” from the mysterious stratchcona pl, shared here back at the end of March carrying the promise of an EP some time in the future… here is that 4 track EP

“holds and releases” is an oddly wonderful lyrical puzzle floating within a musical skeleton of acoustic guitar + voice + ambient sounds + occasional drums. Just listen:

Once again; so now we know everything, and yet we still know nothing at all.

 

Triumphs_2017.jpgDunedin’s heavy viscosity sludge rockers TRIUMPHS return with an epic second album called “Computer Man” – available in a few months as a double 12″ LP. Here’s the shortest song “South of Denim”

If you like the crushing tones, twisting riffs and pile-driving drums of “South of Denim” you’ll love the whole album.

TRIUMPHS is guitarist John Bollen and drummer Mathew Anderson. “Computer Man” follows their excellent 2015 debut “Beekeeper​/​Bastardknocker” and it seems to have more of everything. As you would expect it’s mostly crushingly heavy, yet the album is also full of moments of sublime transcendent calm – try the start of the title track and the start of the 10 minute epic “Twang of the Void”.

In places the album is as menacingly dark and doom-laden as death-metal, as precise and patterned as math-rock, as adventurous as post-rock, and sometimes even as trippy and atmospheric as psychedelic rock. TRIUMPHS instrumental exploration of these various styles is complex but crafted with personality and always much more than an exercise in technique.  It’s an album that belongs in a wide range of record collections.

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.

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.