Dimmer_I Believe You Are A StarHave we reached peak re-issue vinyl yet? How huge is the challenge of running a record label today releasing new music by new or current bands and artists when the new release bins, charts, airplay, print and online media is dominated by an endless run of re-issues, box sets and so on?

Dimmer’s first – extraordinary – album “I Believe You Are a Star” has just had its first release on vinyl, so fortunately it’s not a vinyl re-issue but a vinyl first issue. The original album was released on CD in 2001 at the era of peak Compact Disc. It’s an album I love and Dimmer – the band formed by Shayne P. Carter several years after the demise of Straitjacket Fits – are probably a bit under-appreciated outside NZ, so it still fits within the underdog semi-underground focus of PopLib to post something about it before returning to normal new music service. Here’s the opening track “Drop You Off” –

“Drop You Off” sets the template for the album and for Dimmer. Haunting, soulful, naggingly melodic songs built around minimalist guitar funk, scratching an itch over break-beat drum grooves (from former JPS Experience drummer Gary Sullivan) and Fripp-ish guitar+electronic ambient drone atmosphere underpinning things. While different from the euphoric rock anthems of Straitjacket Fits, these songs share Carter’s gift for soulful grooves, melody and pulsing sonic exploration.

As happens so often with vinyl issues of CD-original releases, there is a track missing to bring the album’s running time down from 45 minutes to a more LP-friendly 40-ish minutes. The track missing from the original 11 track CD release is “All The Way To Her”.

The usual reason for dropping a track to keep the running length around 40 minutes is that vinyl fetishists are a peculiar and problematic, hard-to-satisfy breed. On the one hand the audiophiles would complain about the volume of the pressing if it crammed 45 minutes into two sides (vinyl optimum is @18 minutes per side). On the other hand the cash-strapped vinyl collectors (it’s hard keeping up with the habit) would complain about the extravagance and extra cost of a double LP with only 2-3 songs per side. No-one will be satisfied whatever the outcome, so omitting a track is just part of the eternal compromise of life in the vinyl re-issue age. If only we had either (a) never embraced the Compact Disc format in the first place or (b) never fallen out of love with the Compact Disc format in recent years we wouldn’t be having these kinds of arguments now.

Oddly enough the version of the album on Dimmer’s Bandcamp here (which pre-dates the new vinyl edition) includes “All The Way to Her” but omits two tracks from the original CD issue – “Pendulum” and “Powercord”. All this is possibly annoying for some, but the idea that each form of alternative release to the original CD release reduces the content from the original edition does at least preserve the collectible nature of the CD release.

Dimmer are currently playing shows around NZ, ‘supporting’ Straitjacket Fits. It’s a combination that not only provides excellent value for money but also plenty of opportunity for between-song humour from Carter. Read more about the tour – and his autobiography/ memoirs due middle of 2019 – in this excellent recentĀ interview with Carter.

Finally, here’s a live video of Dimmer performing “Drop You Off” in Dunedin in 2008.