Archives for posts with tag: Dunedin music

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.

DATM SkullsDay 26 of the 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon is a contemporary Dunedin classic from Death And The Maiden called “Skulls”

“Skulls” is a remarkable song on an album of remarkable music which can take a while to reveal subtleties and hidden emotional depths. The words here and their delivery, the way the song slowly builds through an ebb and flow of mesmerising woven pattern of guitars and bass over minimal electronic beats and synth wash, then kicks up a gear with a melodic change and builds to an intense and noisy climax before subsiding.  Just perfect…

“Skulls” is from the self-title debut album by the band not named after the title of the Dunedin single everyone thinks they must be named after.  The members of Death And The Maiden are Lucinda King (bass and vocals), Hope Robertson (guitars, drums, vocals) and Danny Brady (synths and electronic sounds).

The album is part electronica – slow dance/ trance arpeggio synth lines and clattering percussion – and part futuristic post-punk guitars and bass. But it’s the human heart of the voices which bind it all together into something special and unique, creating a world in which it is possible to lose yourself for 40 minutes in music that is dark and melancholy but also mysterious, coolly beautiful and, ultimately, positive and uplifting.

Or, as one Bandcamp purchaser said in a more succinct summary of the album’s charms “It’s great for dancing and crying and everything in between.” Indeed it is.

Shayne OffsiderDay 15 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon comes from repatriated Dunedin legend Shayne P. Carter with a track from his “Offsider” album. Here’s “Ahead of Your Time” –

Shayne P. Carter made his mark over dozens of now classic Flying Nun Records releases with Bored Games, Doublehappys, Straitjacket Fits and others last century – then with the brilliant Dimmer this century.

Never one to rest in a comfortable spot musically speaking, proficient guitarist Carter set himself the challenge of mastering the piano and, on “Offsider”, takes his songwriting in new directions.

His approach to the piano is similar to his instinctive approach to the guitar – as much about sound, propulsion, atmosphere, and tension as it is about melody.

Joining him here is regular drum collaborator Gary Sullivan (of JPS Experience) and also saxophonist Richard Steele (saxophonist/ producer of The Puddle’s “Playboys in the Bush”).

Elan Vital_Black and White_small

Élan Vital – Photo by Phoebe Lysbeth K http://www.phoebelysbethk.com/

Day 13 of our 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month marathon comes from Dunedin trio Élan Vital. It’s the closing track of their “Shadow Self” album and the song is called “Dreams”

“Dreams” has been a fixture in the Radio One Top 11 in Dunedin for the past 3 months. It’s not hard to work out why: it’s a great song with a compulsive kind of rhythm and lyrics most people can relate to.

“Dreams” stands out on “Shadow Self” for a couple of reasons. It’s the singing debut of Élan Vital (and Death and the Maiden) synth and electronic equipment alchemist Danny Brady.  It’s also the most human of the seven tracks which make up “Shadow Self” – a love song even.

When I first heard “Shadow Self” in its entirety the order of the tracks seemed a very deliberate progression from the harsh mechanical world of the opening title track, through worlds (each of the seven songs is a “world” in my imagination) which progressively incorporated more human elements from the voices and lyrics and emotion.

The album is a fantastic dark and richly textured exploration of scientific and human themes, incorporating lyrics and soundscapes inspired by dreams, nightmares, and horror movies. The music features an unusual combination of contemporary electronic dance music with more diverse influences from 60’s garage psych-rock (the swirling hypnotic keyboard parts by Renee Barrance), post-punk and muscular distorted bass playing a kind of mutant disco rhythm.

The closing track on the album, “Dreams”, conveys the clearest human connection of the seven experiences. It’s a song about release and freedom, love and hopefully even redemption.

From the cha-cha analogue drum machine at the start through to the breakdown and the echoing reprise by main vocalist Renee Barrance coming in at the 3 minute 30 mark the whole song is a seductive dance-floor classic. Danny’s morose yet caring vocals are the perfect understated voice for the song.

If you are in Dunedin there’s an extra chance to catch Élan Vital live at the Pioneer Hall in Port Chalmers tonight, Saturday 13 May 2017 along with another PopLib favourite Bad Sav.

Elan Vital LP playing

PeskDay 7 of the 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month madness takes us to a dark echoing railway tunnel beneath Port Chalmers where Pesk are waiting for “When The Heavies Come”

I have no idea if Pesk recorded this in a railway tunnel under Port Chalmers at all. This is called ‘creative licence’. Or, ‘fakes news’ as it’s called now. In simpler times it was just called ‘making things up’.  Anyway, it’s a long way of saying this recording sounds huge and cavernous and also a bit ominous, like the rumble of an oncoming freight train. There’s a sludgy lumbering pulse to the riff which brings to mind some of those earliest Black Sabbath tunes like “Sweet Leaf” too which were all lower-mid frequencies and in no hurry at all.

This lovely fuzzy reverb drenched rumble is the work of the two humans making up Pesk. When they play live drummer Raff plays the synth with one hand and and electronic drumkit with the other three limbs. Guitarist and vocalist Amee provides the low frequency viscous guitar and the solemn vocal. It fills a room. It could so easily fill a railway tunnel too.

Seafog_2017Day 6 of the 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month madness keeps things in Dunedin again (and why not?). Your Saturday blast comes from crusty Port Chalmers punks Seafog and their brilliantly odd and spiky tribute to legendary Dunedin venue “The Crown”.

The debut Seafog album “Raise Your Skinny Fist” had a kind of wiry treble guitar sound and spidery lo-fi charm. But this 6 track EP “Dig It On Up” is a more muscular beast, recapturing the primal essence of Sharma’s 90s band Jetty.  It’s available on 12″ vinyl from Zelle Records and it’s one of this year’s essential Dunedin releases.

“The Crown” is the perfect song about The Crown too. “Welcome to The Crown!” says actual Crown proprietor and local legend Jones Chin at the start. “Play some pool! Here’s some change for the jukebox!” 

Crown Hotel

The Crown is not my favourite venue in Dunedin, but it is the most distinctive of basic live music spaces, essentially a bit of floor at the far end of the public bar. There’s an interesting cross section of Dunedin society co-mingling. It’s best to go with a friend if you are of a nervous disposition or lead a sheltered life away from the fringes. It’s an odd space, wrong shape and size to be a really good venue, although a crowd of 20 feels half full and,when you play there, Jones will serve you a platter of savouries and pastries at the end of the night.

But here’s a surprise – The Crown boasts the best collection of Flying Nun Records era gig posters on display anywhere in the world and the jukebox has local CDs rubbing digital shoulders with classic albums from around the world. If you can’t get to The Crown, just listen to “The Crown”.

JPSE Poster

JPS Experience poster on display at The Crown