Archives for posts with tag: Dunedin music

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.

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