Archives for posts with tag: Dunedin music

Dunedin noise-band Dale Kerrigan, led by guitarist and vocalist Shlee Nichols, have released their first album “Noise Bitch”. It’s a punishing blast of full-fury noise rock, as “RipGirl101” demonstrates ably:

“RipGirl101” is a great introduction to the album. Typical of the songs on the album it’s monstrous, in a Sonic Youth meets Slayer kind of way.

The band tag their sound as “noise rock” and “emo” on bandcamp but there’s also elements of punk, sludge metal, avant-garde dissonance and goodness knows what else going on in the chunky riffage, and loud-quiet dynamics of their particular style of noise rock.

Dale Kerrigan (a band, there is no-one called Dale Kerrigan in the 4 piece group) is the brainchild of Ōtepoti/ Dunedin musician Shlee Nicholls (Mary Berry, Flesh Bug), another from the noisy Nicholls family production line of musicians, alongside hyperactive drumming brother Josh Nicholls (Koizilla, Fazed on a Pony, Asta RanguSpace Bats, Attack! et al.) and friends Joel Field (Porpoise), and Connor Blackie (Koizilla, Adelaide Cara).

“Noise Bitch” will be available on cassette tape with art book soon. In the meantime, treat yourself to the download.

Our Day 29 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “Reed Replacement” by Robert Scott & Dallas Henley:

“Reed Replacement” is from a very limited edition CD album called “Level 4” with an original artwork cover from Robert Scott (The Clean, The Bats, Magick Heads). Scott and his partner Dallas Henley recorded the songs at home during “Level 4” during NZ’s nationwide Covid19 Level 4 lockdown in 2020.

Scott’s two most recent solo albums – “Ends Run Together” and “The Green House” – are two of the understated highlights of NZ music in the past decade.   

This low-key unpolished set of songs is an audio scrap-book of songs that, in normal times, would end up being developed for albums by The Bats, or The Clean. “Reed Replacement” here would make a perfect song for any future (but highly unlikely) album by The Clean.

The guitar and voice is Scott’s of course. His unavoidable influence on bassist Dallas Henley is clear throughout the album, as she provides the most Robert Scott-esque basslines imaginable, using the instrument as a melodic counterpoint to Scott’s guitar and vocal melodies.  

If you are in Dunedin and pop out to Port Chalmers on Otago Harbour you will find their gallery and art supplies shop Pea Sea Art on the main street. Pop in, view and buy the art works, and check the bins of local music on LP instore too.

Our Day 12 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “Combine Harvester” by Opposite Sex:

After relocating to Dunedin and recording their hyper-active eponymous debut 10 years ago Opposite Sex replaced original Gisborne guitarist Fergus Taylor with Tasmanian import Reg Norris, and released two more albums, “Hamlet” in 2015 and “High Drama” earlier this year, from which “Combine Harvester” here is from. 

While Taylor provided musical and melodic counterpoints to Hunter’s dark and warped post-punk pop on album #1, Norris provides distressed and queasy dissonant guitar noise.

It’s an acquired taste, often sounding like a post-punk odd-pop group is sharing the studio with guitarist playing music by a different band – the Dead C unfortunately – which can distract from the tunefulness of Hunter’s unique songwriting. That may be the point.

The music of Opposite Sex has grown increasingly darker and mis-shapen over the years, so sometimes that extreme noise terror approach works in service of the song. “Combine Harvester” is one such occasion. Norris’s terrifying guitar noise sounds like a dozen furious wasps trapped in an empty beer bottle, amplified and then annihilated through a distortion unit.

When the song is about wishing an ex-lover was consumed by the mechanical threshing machinery of a combine harvester, that approach works just fine.

Our Day 11 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “Slow Song Simmer” by Seafog:

“Slow Song Simmer” is another song from the recent Dunedin compilation “…And It Could Be Right Now – New Music From Ōtepoti​/​Dunedin” It says it is a demo for the “Slow Death” LP, presumably in the works.

Hopefully that LP retains the washed out shoegaze (seahaze?) shimmer of this because it all sounds as distant and spooky as the noise of fishing boats lost in the disorienting haze of a harbour fog in winter.

Seafog are form Port Chalmers near Dunedin, made up of guitarist and lead vocalist Robin Sharma (Jetty), guitarist Nigel Waters, bass guitarist Andrew Barsby and drummer Martyn Sadler. As they expain: “Seafog are a 4 piece that have been around for a while. We play in the garage out Port, sometimes like our lives depend on it.”

There’s a new 29 track compilation just out via Bandcamp called …And It Could Be Right Now – New Music From Ōtepoti​/​Dunedin. It’s a diverse allsorts pick’n’mix of Dunedin sounds. This track from Ana Moser stood out as being both experimental/ lo-fi and also all kinds of atmospheric wonderful.

Moser is described as ‘a loop pedal artist’ who was previously half of Dunedin duo ODESSA, crafting lo-fi ambient-experimental sludge metaltronica.

On “to a place” (“imprisoned in sound and melody“) Moser uses mostly her voice, which carries something of the world-weary spirit of Billie Holiday, doubled with a subtle pitch-shift effect (?) and fogged in reverb, with percussion and droning keyboard, to create a darkly atmospheric, grainy, lo-fi psychedelic devotional music incantation.

“…And It Could Be Right Now – New Music From Ōtepoti/Dunedin” showcases recently produced music made in this city, from punk to indie rock, electronica, sound art, krautrock, improvisation, chiptune, screamo, folk, noise to electropop and more. There’s probably something for everybody.

The compilation features some PopLib favourites, including songs from Bathysphere, Asta Rangu and Seafog. The more experimental sounds are towards the end of the compilation, and there’s much to explore there and along the way.

Waterfalls (Anber Johnson) returns with a new single for 2021 and a show tonight at Dive in Dunedin along with crone and Death and the Maiden:

“Impressionistic” is an ever-morphing thing, beginning with sparse keyboard and vocals which give no indication of what is ahead. Soon enough the song loads up clanging percussion which adds evolving rhythmic and tonal twists and turns and a popping sequencer synth bass line.

It’s an unusual and glorious fusion of a kind of misty echoing dreampop with darker electronic dance music and looped sampled beats.

Waterfalls performs at Dive in Dunedin tonight, Saturday 16 January 2021, along with another Wellington/ Pōneke electronic duo crone and Dunedin’s electronic dream-pop post-punk electronic adventurers Death and the Maiden.

The Chills have just released a new song out of the (night of chill) blue. It’s both familiar Chills and also a bit different, bold and majestically epic.

“You’re Immortal” carries off the kind of ambitious flourishes Martin Phillipps has often strived for (thinking of the recently re-issued “Submarine Bells” and “Soft Bomb” albums released in the band’s early 1990s peak, also available via The Chills bandcamp).

The horns may be intended to convey a kind of Love “Forever Changes” baroque pop feel but it also evokes the film soundtrack music of John Barry and also Ennio Morricone when the layered choral voices come in. It all serves as glorious counterpoint embellishing a classic and instantly memorable Chills song for the ages.

As Phillipps explains: “These are unprecedented times but, as usual, the young feel invulnerable and the elders are concerned. The old people (like me) want to feel more involved but they also know that their time of influence has largely passed. So we learn from the young and admire them as they make their own mistakes yet still, hopefully, shape extraordinary history we could not have imagined.”

“Tell Me” is the second song of an ambitious 14 song double LP of lost Dunedin music by Charcoal Burners. Choosing just one song to feature was a fraught task. “Tell Me” seemed to best encapsulate in one relatively brief song all the jangling, squalling, cyclical, melodic wonder in his amalgam of 70’s rock (Neil Young & Crazy Horse especially), hardcore-post-punk-via-shoegaze (part Hüsker Dü, part Ride, part Velvet Crush), all as re-imagined from within the hyper-busy, perhaps obsessive mind of sometimes Dunedin musician Andrew Spittle.

Since 1990 Andrew Spittle – under his own name and with bands Dating Godot, Das Phaedrus, All Red Cables and now Charcoal Burners – has independently released over 40 albums of original music as well as a handful of singles and EPs titles. The earliest releases were cassettes, progressing to Compact Disc and eventually digital releases via Bandcamp.

Just to confound and confuse, this new release on gatefold double LP called “The Scottish Play”, which is attributed to Spittle’s most recent Charcoal Burners iteration, was initially released as a Dating Godot album in 2002. Spittle was the only remaining member of the band when it was recorded, Dating Godot having dissolved after the release of 4 (!) albums into the void the previous year, so I guess 18 years on he can chose whichever name he wants to release it under.

The album features a few piano based songs, and some acoustic neo-folk, but the predominant theme is overdriven guitar rock, and an unusual but successful blend of traditional guitar rock, post-punk’s hardcore and grunge sonics, appropriated drum loops, and the textured layered soundwalls and submerged vocals of shoegaze. It’s a wonderful album, full of variety, melody, and a lot of mystery and haze.

While the album title references the alternate name used by superstitious thespians for a certain Shakespeare play, this is only loosely a ‘concept album’ and any themes around obsessive ambition and regret appear to be the personal reflections of the songwriter. But, as with the play, the story (lyrics here) sometimes offer coded universal themes.

I’d heard of Dating Godot, and saw their prolific CDs in Echo Records here in Dunedin at the time. But, without hearing them, I didn’t understand where they fitted into the music I liked. So having “The Scottish Play” (re)released in the imposing and enduring format of a double LP 18 years on is a revelation, and the discovery of a seam of ‘lost’ (overlooked) Dunedin music from the past. Having never heard this, or the band, before, there’s no aura of nostalgia. The use of drum loops ‘sampled’ painstakingly from favourite albums also gives the album a curiously contemporary but timeless feel. Like that Scottish castle, this album feels haunted by ghosts.

Spittle has been called an ‘outsider’, but most independent NZ music is made by ‘outsiders’, making music beyond the commercial mainstream, following rules of their own making, or perhaps attempting imitation of, or homage to, a particular overseas style, and failing with original results. The prolific and independent Spittle has also operated outside of any particular scene or label.

Music made in Dunedin has tended to be invisible to the world – and therefore to much of NZ. There have been rare exceptions – the 1980s and early 1990s saw a scene based around the Flying Nun Records label celebrated around the world. Then, in the 1990s Bruce Russell’s Xpressway label provided a conduit to Dunedin’s yeasty underground scene, and again in the 2010s there has been a further modest interest, facilitated by the accessibility of the internet and perhaps some post-FNR/ Xpressway curiosity. But in 2002 Dunedin was all but invisible to the world, and a band outside of recognised scenes at the time would be doubly invisible, regardless releasing 4 albums in a year. Here’s an overdue chance to correct that.

Thirty eight years on from their inception in Christchurch NZ, combining The Clean bassist-turned-guitarist Robert Scott, with ex-Toy Love bassist Paul Kean, guitarist Kaye Woodward and drummer Malcolm Grant, The Bats still rock that original line-up. They’ve just released their 10th album, called “Foothills”. Here’s the closing track, the glorious “Electric Sea View”:

“Electric Sea View” is everything Bats in a song. That familiar melodic chug and jangle, those vocal harmonies, a certain kind of wistful warm homeliness, and an atmosphere of subdued psychedelia hovering in the air.

That atmosphere here (and throughout the album) is largely supplied through the subtle keyboard shadings and minimalist tone soloing from Kaye Woodward’s lead guitar. Over successive albums Woodward has refined those lead guitar lines into things of Fripp-like esoteric beauty, with their thick overdriven saturation and sustain, and tiny bit of tremolo here.

“Foothills” was recorded by the band (bassist Paul Kean) in a house in the foothills of the Southern Alps in the middle of New Zealand’s South Island. As Robert Scott explains: “Many carloads arrived at the house, full of amps guitars and recording gear, we set up camp and soon made it feel like home; coloured lights, a log fire, and home cooked meals in the kitchen. We worked fast, and within a few days had all the basic backing tracks done, live together in one room, the way we like to do it – it’s all about ‘the feel’ for songs like ours.”

Asta Rangu guitarist/ vocalist/ songwriter Richard Ley-Hamilton has taken the crafted guitar-pop of his previous band Males, and twisted it to darker, more intricate and thrilling shapes and shades, injecting subtle layers of noise and mayhem, but retaining the pure heart of golden pop, as “Thin Air” here shows…

“Thin Air” is the closing track of Asta Rangu’s “Plasticine” EP (or, at 24 minutes, is it a mini-album?). It’s a hybrid of elements of shoegaze, atmospheric noise-rock, and jangling guitar pop, all laced with an intriguing undercurrent of Fripp-ish guitar sonics experimentation.

“Plasticine” was originally released in 2017 on cassette tape format by emerging Dunedin label trace / untrace who say: “melodic and angular, asta rangu laces jarring riffs into fidgety pop and hook-laden wordplay. a sonic trip into the noisy, intricately layered world of imaginary figures.

Now “Plasticine” has another physical format re-release on the unfairly maligned/ side-lined Compact Disc format, a more economically viable, sustainable, utilitarian, easy-to-store-and-mail, and, well, compact physical format than vinyl. CDs have the advantage of having the tactile and visual qualities of an LP record sleeve in miniature, and this one has a sleeve which has been lovingly hand-crafted in Dunedin by a team of trace – untrace records artisans.

The CD release is available in NZ record stores, and at any shows they play (like tonight’s show at Dive in Dunedin supporting The Beths)