Archives for posts with tag: electronica

Lets Eat Grandma_Video still1Let’s Eat Grandma is two Norwich teenagers, Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton. Their first album is out in June, called “I, Gemini”.  Here’s a preview track from it, called “Eat Shiitake Mushrooms”.

There’s a lengthy glockenspiel and wheezy organ intro before it crackles into thudding dance-floor life at the 1 minute 30 second mark. The vocals kick in halfway through the song’s 6 minute length, so stick with it because it’s a delightful and enigmatic trip beginning to end.

On the strength of this song, and a 7” single – “Deep Six Textbook/ “Sink” – released last month on London indpendent label Transgressive Records , the album promises to be a freakishly wonderful offering of their genre-warping craft.

While their music sometimes shows whimsical playfulness it also seems to carry a darker undercurrent of existentialist unease. That’s particularly true of single “Deep Six Textbook”, a kind of ultra slow-motion darkly Gothic meditation on the frustrations of free-spirited individuals coping with a structured, standardised (textbook) education.  That song was such a striking soundworld I ordered a copy immediately.

“Eat Shiitake Mushrooms” is completely different. It seems to be three songs in one, together creating something simultaneously absurd, playful, unsettling and exotic.

It’s psychedelic pop in the way The Raincoats’ “Only Loved At Night” was psychedelic pop, subversive pop in the way that The Sugarcubes “Birthday” was subversive pop, and absurdist art-pop in the way The Frank Chickens “We Are Ninja” was absurdist art-pop.

What each of the three songs released so far demonstrate is a sense of DIY musical and lyrical adventuring throughout popular music culture, unburdened by conforming with rules of any particular music genre.

Their command of multiple styles demonstrates skilful borrowing, filtering and re-constructing in unorthodox ways of a wide range of music influences from rap, to chart pop, electronica, folk, and more experimental forms. In interviews they seem motivated purely by the healthy enjoyment of creating music, crafting multi-layered lyrics, singing, rapping, having fun, being daft, being deadly serious, leaping from one idea to another, playing with their audience, challenging and dismantling preconceptions.

Let’s Eat Grandma are a reminder of a whole history of music out on the distant margins of the manicured music industry, the subversive music-makers and pop stars.  Misfits, oddities, risk-takers, boundary-pushing experimentalists.  The results will sometimes get written off as novelty music, because music is expected to take itself seriously, be authentic, whatever that is.

The strength of Let’s Eat Grandma is that they are being themselves. And much as we may want to imagine where their potential may take them in future, let’s enjoy their music now for what it is.

Here’s the dream-like video for “Deep Six Textbook” –

Shocking Pinks

Dunedin dark electronica + post-punk trio Death And The Maiden have contributed this hypnotic re-mix of Shocking Pinks’ “Every1” to a re-mix cassette released this month.

‘Wake up Children’ is a collection of remixes by New Zealand producers of songs from ‘Dance the Dance Electric’ which is being re-issued by A Low Hum this month.

Here’s the Shocking Pinks’ original – a deliciously grainy slice of bruised psych-pop:

There’s a Shocking Pinks album release tour happening for that right now in the US.

Kolya snow

The road from the City of Dunedin to Port Chalmers follows the western shore of Otago Harbour. “City to Port” is a 20 minute car trip or a 4 minute 44 second head-trip while you listen to this:

Kolya is the work of Dunedin musician Nikolai Sim, one-time bassist for Scattered Brains of The Lovely Union, and now bassist for Gothronica trio Elan Vital. He describes the ambient-techno soundtrack of “City To Port” as an “old demo” while he works on new sounds, but it’s new to me and the rest of the world beyond Kolya.

The one-take live-mixed video with the song is from Lady Lazer Light (Erica Sklenars -creator of the fabulous 2 x one-take video for Death And The Maiden’s “Dear ___ “)

Elan Vital
Some more wonderful Gothtronica originating from the cold dusty detritus-filled rooms of Dunedin’s None Gallery building and communal arts & music space, this time from newcomers Elan Vital.

“Albtraum” is a deliciously grainy thing, with a vague hint of early Human League about it at times. Elan Vital seem to take some cues from the same ‘Sheffield sound’ of dark electronic pop that Dunedin trio Death And The Maiden have been re-engineering for the new century and Southern latitudes. Except where Death And The Maiden’s soundscapes are epic and lush in scope and scale and feel, Elan Vital’s sound is claustrophobic with unsettling undercurrents.

But among this unnerving dark shadow the change at 1:30 is pure pop. When it is followed by the introduction of a throaty growl of bass guitar, “Albtraum” transforms itself, spreads big dark leathery wings, and starts to fly…

“Albtraum” is included on “Deep and Meaningful Volume 3” – a compilation featuring an extensive 35 song trawl of the NZ underground, including PopLib featured artists Jim Nothing; The Biscuits; Emily Edrosa; and Strange Harvest.

Sparkle Kitty
Christchurch synthesists (?) Sparkle Kitty are back with a slice of fat/ phat synth-bass gyrating pop called “Tender”.

The intro to “Tender” may bring big memories for the old & frail of Rick Astley’s 80’s synth-pop hit “Never Gonna Give You Up”. But, like everything today infected with the seed of 80’s synth pop, Sparkle Kitty add the kind of effortless cool the likes of Rick Astley could never manage.

This is partly because “Tender” is a deeper, darker, more substantial pop tune with a Euro-Disco edge, and partly because Lucy Macilquham’s vocals run melodic gymnastic circles all around and over those hairspray 80’s boys.

Sparkle Kitty play at Chick’s Hotel on Saturday 8 August with Shunkan.

Chick’s Hotel has a bass-monster PA system, smoke machine, a great light-show and a glitter ball. That’s all you need to know.


Day 21 of PopLib’s May Month of Madness Marathon for NZ Music Month comes Dunedin’s electronic pop past.

“Pretty” is probably the most recognisable song from the catalogue of Cloudboy. Cloudboy was songwriter, vocalist, keyboard player Demarnia Lloyd and some of her former bandmates and producers from Mink.

I came across the ‘Cloudboy Unauthorised’ Bandcamp while assembling yesterday’s post… it’s a treasure trove of live songs, unreleased and rare compilation items.

During the 1990s an alternative ‘sound’ was developed in Dunedin. The early electronica of the scene around Mink and the Happy Hagland production studio was years ahead of its time. It coincided with the rise of the compact disc, and of interactive CD-ROMS (music plus fairly lo-res video and other interactive computer stuff which Mink pioneered in underground music in Dunedin). You can still hear connections from that late 1990s early 2000s era in Dunedin music today.

Cloudboy TV interview & version of “Pretty” –

Single version of “Pretty” –

“All These Conditions” is a sweetly dislocated slice of ambient glitch sound-collage from Dunedin ensemble Govrmint.

Dunedin’s experimental/electronic music underground is a clandestine world of of it’s own. A new generation of sound-makers operate as Charisma Collective. The Charisma Collective Bandcamp page is where I stumbled across Govrmint’s “Pipe DRM” but Govrmint also have their own Bandcamp.

The whole album is wonderful. A familiar reference point may be Boards of Canada, but Govrmint operate like a futuristic laptop glitch advancement of that kind of oddly dislocating (mis)use of sound and samples. Check out the glorious “Altnow” for another poke in the third eye.

Lttle Phnx

PopLib featured Lttle Phnx, the vowel-deprived operating system name for Wellington synth-pop producer Lucy Beeler, back in 2013. There’s a new, and different sounding EP release not long out – “Pyrexia” is its name.

This is all kinds of perfection to my ears. The lead synth part zinging around from ear to ear in the middle of your head here reminds me of Alan Rankine’s soaring crystalline guitar parts from the classic Associates’ debut album “A Matter of Gender”. This is a very good thing.

Another thing these 4 songs share in common with the music of those Scottish post-punk adventurers is a clean minimal production and sparse but perfectly assembled arrangement which leaves space and creates atmosphere and room for those soaring melancholy vocals. Or, as the CMR label write-up explains it, with cyber-erotic perfection: “reverb-wet crystal-encrusted caves of longing”.

Weirdly, there’s another Scottish 80s alternative reminder – The Blue Nile – in the lush 80’s synth sounds employed here and in the feeling of dancing-by-yourself late night sadness it all evokes. I mean sadness in a positive way; as being more comforting for an introvert than the anxiety of dancing with others.

I realise these (possibly annoying/ unhelpful) references say more about my music collection (and state of mind) than anything in the subconscious of Lttle Phnx/ Lucy Beeler, so don’t take them to heart. It’s just a random observation.

Once you’ve listened to enough music it often starts triggering weird un-connected memories associated with times, places and life – and other music (which is associated with times, places and life too). Which is one of the pleasures of listening to new music.

You know the sensations a familiar record will evoke. But with new music your responses are unpredictable and sometimes unexpected & take you where you may never have been before. I like that. I like this too. Thanks Lttle Phnx for these “four intimate moments where time refracts off of the precious walls.”

‘Machine Love’ is an ice-cool collaboration between former Christchurch sonic explorer Mark Roberts as We Are Temporary and fellow Christchurch electronica artist (and PopLib favourite) Misfit Mod.

It is the lead single off a new We Are Temporary album called “Gemini” (due late 2014 on Stars & Letters).

Misfit Mod (Sarah Kelleher) contributed the lyrics and vocals. While Sarah as Misfit Mod usually operates in a minimalist electronica setting where the vocals are the human heart of the song, “Machine Love” turns up the volume, intensity and sonic distractions to stadium-filling levels. Despite the churn that voice still manages to shine through the thundering pulse and clatter of machinery, calm at the centre of the storm, with its perfect melancholic soul intact.


Day 14 of the NZ Music Month daily NZ music madness is ‘Wellsford Video’ from the dark imagination of Auckland sound-charmer MOPPY.

This from Muzai Records Bandcamp page: “Moppy (a.k.a Thom Burton) produces wonders of glitch and IDM that take their cues from the ambient works of Chris Morris and the soundtrack to television classic Jaaaaam. Cultivated through a period of fasting in a tin-foil hat, with a brief period of time working with Cute Banana (who appeared on the single “Big Bad Wolf” from his first album, Mokai), Seconds is more than mere electronic music and EDM.”

No idea what any of that actually means sorry but I do like this Moppy album. ‘Seconds’ reminds me in places of early Eno (eg: Music for Films) and Boards of Canada and in other places of the experimental side of Broadcast. But there’s also a lot of musique-concrete & avant-garde sound manipulation going on here too which means it is hard to pin it down to being any one thing.

It’s all very exotic yet accessible while also being fresh & a little challenging. Which pretty much sums up the modus operandi of Muzai Records really.