Archives for posts with tag: replicants
Little Bark

Little Bark

Day 20 of PopLib’s May Month of Madness Marathon for NZ Music Month goes into heavy synth-pop overdrive with Little Bark’s “Poly”

“Poly” comes from the recent album “USB” from Little Bark. USB in this case represents ‘Unique Sonic Broadcast’, although it is fittingly available on a USB drive as well as LP and CD formats. The rapid vibrato/ tremolo on the voice is just enough to give this lush big tune a hint of unsettling more-android-than-human appeal.

I had a synth once called Poly. Well, it was called Poly-800 but those numbers seemed so impersonal so it was just Poly to me. I sold Poly to Demarnia Lloyd of Cloudboy in 1996. I’m sure Poly had a much better and more creative life with Demarnia than it would ever have with me. But I do sometimes miss Poly…

Strange Harvest - photo by Phoebe MacKenzie & Emily Berryman

Strange Harvest – photo by Phoebe MacKenzie & Emily Berryman

Day 10 of the May Month of Madness Marathon for NZ Music Month is a track from “Pattern Recognition” – the brand new third album from Dunedin duo Strange Harvest.

“Expression #14” is one of the more atmospheric songs on the album. Just synth, delay guitar and voice. And all the better to showcase the words.

Those words are one of the big standouts on “Pattern Recognition”. The lyrics (or sometimes spoken word pictures) are mysterious and evocative short stories about places and feelings that are from some parallel world. The lines “Come quickly/ you mustn’t miss the dawn/ it will never be quite like this again” have stuck in my mind ever since I first heard this song last year. They capture the fleeting impermanence of human experience perfectly.

Most other tracks are propelled along on beats programmed by keyboard player & vocalist Skye Strange. Some of them enter the territory of dance music. Death Disco dance music perhaps, but some of those slinky/ crunching beats are at BPMs that will get limbs twitching.

There’s a graininess about “Pattern Recognition” which gives it a sinister claustrophobic feeling at times. It’s not lo-fi but it’s less glossy than “Inside A Replica City” (2013). It does feel like it was recorded in an “Abandoned Airport” building.

In fact it was recorded in a decaying inner city Victorian era building in Dunedin. I’m sure in some of the quiet passages you can hear plaster from the ceiling falling into the inflatable paddling pool used to collect leaking rainwater in the recording room.

According to this Radio NZ interview “Pattern Recognition” was meant to be about some kind of dystopian future, but they say it turned out all that stuff happened last year anyway.

In case you haven’t noticed already Strange Harvest do the best band interviews ever.

Here’s “We Are All The Same” from Exgynoid. Listen in and then read on…

As explained on Shunkan’s Facebook page, Shunkan started out as Marina Sakimoto, became a band and, along the way, left a musical crumb trail of lo-fi shoe-gaze dream-pop, electronic pop, and experimental ambient-electronica soundscapes, before becoming the crunching power-pop band of “Our Names” from the forthcoming debut album “The Pink Noise”.

Potentially confusing? There’s nothing wrong with sonic diversity and keeping people guessing about identity and genre. However, Marina decided to create a separate identity – Exgynoid – for her solo, electronic based music. The three-song “CULTUS” is our introduction.

“Character Customization” is a brief instrumental introduction before the two main courses – both of which demonstrate a mastery of pop song-craft in quite different and unusual/ adventurous ways.

“Candy” is sweet pop, with a kind of faux mandolin, and recognisably Shunkan/ Marina Sakimoto (that distinctive voice & command of melodic songwriting), but the two different instrumental bridges/ drops are thrilling & fun.

“We Are All The Same” is another beautifully crafted pop song, vocal gymnastics bouncing on top of a minimalist electronic echo-pulse. Perfect. Just like the name Exgynoid. Machine synthesis (re)taking humanoid form. Welcome.