Our Day 19 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “Interstellar Gothic” by The Puddle:

“Interstellar Gothic” was originally an And Band improvisation. The And Band (1981) were the Christchurch-based transition from Wellington band The Spies (1979) – captured in all their unhinged post-punk weirdness on “The Battle of Bosworth Terrace” archival album released on US label Siltbreeze Records a few years ago – on towards the eventual formation of The Puddle (1984 on) in Dunedin. But on this 1985 live recording The Puddle present the definitive version of the song.

As the bandcamp page for the album notes: “A week before recording “Pop Lib” in Dunedin in 1985 The Puddle toured south to Invercargill with The Chills, playing two nights at Invercargill venue The Glengarry Tavern. The second night, Saturday 20 April 1985 was recorded through the mixing desk direct to cassette tape…The multi-channel live recording is like a studio live-to-air in quality, painting quite a different sonic picture to the dense fug and crowd noise of both “Pop Lib” and “Live at the Teddy Bear Club” releases on Flying Nun Records.”

This live recording – and “Interstellar Gothic” in particular – captures the essential alchemy of that much talked about early line-up of George D Henderson on guitar and vocals, bassist Ross Jackson, drummer Lesley Paris and flute player Norma O’Malley (both also in Look Blue Go Purple at the time), French horn/ cornet player Lindsay Maitland, and keyboard player Peter Gutteridge (formerly of The Clean, at the time in The Great Unwashed, and soon to be Snapper).

When people mention “The Dunedin Sound” in the 1980s they conveniently forget the pinnacle of outsider avant-freak-pop that The Puddle represented during that decade. Another – quite different – exploration of the possibilities of that six-piece line-up is in the delicate and beautiful “Billie & Franz” here: