Archives for posts with tag: Strange Harvest
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.

Embedded Figures

“EVE”is the first tantalising tune from Embedded Figures – solo format output of Strange Harvest keyboard operator/ vocalist Skye Strange.

It’s a perfectly formed and intriguingly clandestine debut. From that minimalist intro – like an old video game soundtrack – something menacing swirls in the background before block-rocking beats charge in and strange humanoid voice (or close facsimilie thereof) intones words/ codes until everything goes “CHROME!” and whatever this part human/ part machine life-form is malfunctions.

Very keen to hear more music data processing from Embedded Figures.

The idea with PopLib blog was to exclude all the stuff released on Fishrider Records and draw your attention to other unheard goodness, mostly hidden away on Bandcamp. The main focus of PopLib has been on uncovering NZ underground pop sounds, with occasional excursions over the Tasman and around the world.

The next Fishrider Records release creates a dilemma for the self-imposed ‘nothing from Fishrider’ rules here though. It’s a compilation of 13 songs and only 5 are Fishrider-released artists. Almost all the others have featured here on PopLib in the past year.

The compilation is called T E M P O R A R Y, in reference to the transient nature of young musicians, bands and the music scene here in Dunedin in general. It is an extension of what PopLib is about – drawing attention to the stuff you may never know exists. It even comes with a ‘zine (actually a pretty classy words music, writing & art magazine) to help immerse you even more and to kickstart your discovery of each band included.

It’s out in early September here in NZ, has a US co-release on Ba Da Bing! Records and will be also available in the UK with the assistance of Occultation Recordings. You can pre-order it now in a variety of formats at ridiculous pre-order prices from Fishrider’s Bandcamp here. As well as an immediate download you’ll also get into the release shows at Chick’s Hotel on 5th & 6th September (if you are in Dunedin).

As you’ll see if you visit the page there’s only two tracks available to stream at the moment – “All Over The World” by The Prophet Hens and Winded” by Kane Strang .

Another 7 can be found on the Bandcamp pages of the bands. As a quick guide just for the loyal readers of PopLib, here’s a shortcut to some more of what’s what on the compilation. So have a look around, discover more from the ones you like the most… but if you like some of them and want to hear them on vinyl & read about them in print, grab that compilation LP & ‘zine while it lasts.

Side One:
1 Mavis Gary – Dim the Droog

2 Death & The Maiden – Flowers for the Blind

3 The Prophet Hens – All Over The World

4 Males – Dead Aware

5. Mr Biscuits – My Plums Are Ripe

6. Opposite Sex – Supermarket

7. Strange Harvest – Amnesia

Side Two:
1 The Shifting Sands – All The Stars

2 Astro Children – Gaze

3 Kane Strang – Winded

4 Bad Sav – Buy Something New

5 Scattered Brains of the Lovely Union – Party To Your Om

6 Trick Mammoth – Home Video

Strange Harvest (via their Facebook page)

Strange Harvest (via their Facebook page)

The Attic is a collective-run arts/ culture/ music/ pigeons/ dust space in downtown Dunedin. It is the ‘incubator’ responsible for a big part of the happening sounds of young Dunedin right now. Trick Mammoth recorded their early demos there, Astro Children recorded their ‘Lick my Spaceship’ EP and album ‘Proteus’ there. Trick Mammoth’s Adrian Ng is one of The Attic partners and has recorded and mixed all the singles club releases.

Adrian Ng recording Strange Harvest recording in The Attic

Adrian Ng recording Strange Harvest recording in The Attic – photo Alex Lovell-Smith

The Attic is also a label – some cassettes, some CDR releases and a lot of digital releases via The Attic Bandcamp page..

The Attic has recently been running a digital Singles Club. One new song by the selected local artist, and one cover version selected by The Attic. The Attic choices often seem perverse, maybe even cruel. When I saw they’d selected a song by rapper Earl Sweatshirt for Dunedin darkwave electronic + guitar duo Strange Harvest to cover as their ‘B-side’ I was thinking this was the cruellest trick they’d pulled.

Turns out I needn’t have worried at all. This is my favourite of the singles club releases so far (and there’s been some very cool ones preceding it). The cover version is a highlight. But the main song ‘Astronaut’ is wonderful too.


“Would you disconnect me and leave me alone?”

‘Amnesia’ is a song from Dunedin darkwave duo Strange Harvest’s second album – “Inside a Replica city”. I wrote about this song here on PopLib last year.

“The thing I love about Strange Harvest’s particular brand of ice-cool electro-pop is that, beneath those surface impressions of songs about a kind of semi-robotic or replicant dystopian future, there is so much human vulnerability involved, sometimes observed in concise but forensic detail.”

Now the talented creative team of Phoebe MacKenzie and Emily Berryman have made a dark and haunting video for the song. It captures the mood (and some of Dunedin’s local coastal scenery) brilliantly.

Strange Harvest Replica City
Day 24 of the 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month via Bandcamp challenge comes from Dunedin’s best replicant electro-pop duo, Strange Harvest.

In a week’s time (Friday 31st May 2013) Strange Harvest will be holding their album release show for ‘Inside a Replica City’ at Queens in Dunedin.

As this track – the creepy, dark, sad and beautiful ‘Amnesia’ – shows, Strange Harvest are masters of minimalist soundscapes which merge under-stated melodic keyboard pop with something more abstract and unsettlingly human – “would you disconnect me and leave me alone?”

The whole album is strong and ebbs and flows with odd tales and dreamy pop built upon keyboards and drum-machine. Haunting detached vocals, semi-spoken interludes, and guitars alternating between desert twang and reverb-drenched noise colour in the outlines.

The thing I love about Strange Harvest’s particular brand of ice-cool electro-pop is that, beneath those surface impressions of songs about a kind of semi-robotic or replicant dystopian future, there is so much human vulnerability involved, sometimes observed in concise but forensic detail.

Perhaps the album is less about an escapist sci-fi futurist landscape of replicants and leisure colonies and more an observation that this imagined existence is closer to our present voyeuristic media & internet fixated reality than we care to admit. Are we in fact just programmed drones; replicants bred to unthinkingly live in debt or wage servitude in our own present-day version of the Blade Runner movie?