Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Whispering Waves - 18 Silken Hits For The Gin Palace Or Crib (c. 1996)

From the folks who brought you the Silicon Hits series, comes the first(?) Silken Hits compilation of the best of NZ's Soft-/Adult-Oriented-/Yacht-Rock.

These tracks from '72 - '83 serve up a soft and sunny coupling of singer/songwriter & soul sensitivities, mixed with disco & funk lubricity and produced in second string Steely Dan sophistication. Sometimes there's sax or brass, maybe a string section, almost always an electric piano. Tune in to tight & dirty grooves, seriously cheesy sleaze, elegant arrangements, pastoral post-disco chill-outs, bouncy soul serenades and country funk ballads.

Dismissed at the time by supercilious hipsters (and now championed by the same), these smooth'n'lite sounds soothe and swaddle and deserve a second and third listen in these nervous times. Suck up the sensual sentimentality, luxuriate in the pricey production, and bob your noggin to the rhythms of Whispering Waves.

I Want The Sand In My Shoes, I Want The Wind In My Hair

Monday, December 30, 2019

You Were Dancing With My Mind Vol. 2 - 23 More Silicon Hits Of The 1980s (c. 1990)

Folks in Aotearoa are happy to trip to the past via 2LP NZ punk, funk or garage rock comps, and boundlessly bang on about our Flying Nun or Free Noise scenes -- but good-time synth-pop is easily our most unloved genre. Which is a shame, because although it was never a very big or very strong scene in eighties Enzed, we put out some pretty solid tracks.

Volume Two of this series collects a complex, chirpy swathe of minimal wave, electrogoth, Peter Gabriel-/Kate Bush-inspired sophisticated pop, R&B and B-Boy music, a melodramatic Bowie clone, and sweet throwaway love-pop -- all awash in the timeful silicon sounds of Rolands, Korgs, Moogs and Yamahas.

Deep In My Mind I Rehearse The Scene

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Autumn Jumbo Fun-Pak: Onset/Offset Cassette Comps (1983-87)

Digging back into the fertile fields of the 1980s Christchurch underground. Many of these songs were comped on the Krypton Ten 2xLP, but now you can listen to them in all of their 35-year-old, 'tape-saturated', hissy and disintegrating glory! Read all about Onset/Offset in Andrew Schmidt's article here

20 Krypton Hits Volume One (1983)

Krypton Green (1984)

Krypton Red (1984)

Krypton Amber (1984)

KVEETWO (1987)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Besser and Prosser - Dark Wind/Spring Rain (1986)

New Zealand Composer Edition: New Music For Violin and Piano, by Jonathan Besser & Chris Prosser.

Both artists have been involved with electronic music, though I've only heard Besser in Free Radicals. But this part of their practice is evident in the record's opening suite.

Extended techniques expand the timbres in the Three Impressions of 'Dark Wind': in Part One, reverberating wooden raps and clouts on bodies of piano and violin, strummed piano wires and whispery un-rosined bowing wheeze huff and heave like the sea; Part Two's tinkling keys ground the flutter and swoop of birdcalls/-flaps/-hoppings chivvied from the fiddle; whilst Part Three feels electronically augmented, with low piano strings struck odd-chiming like ring-modulation, and paper slipped 'twixt the violin strings sizzles and snaps 'midst buzzy sawtooth scything. Unambiguously bewitching.

Best Prose

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Autumnal Jumbo Fun-Pak: The Unmatchable Robert Cardy (1987-88)

Continuing our Christchurch cassette excavations: home-taped, killer music from the bountiful Bob Cardy (Axemen, Shaft, etc.).

Traditional EnZed bedroom studio stuff in the orthodoxy of Chris Knox or Kraus, Alastair Galbraith or Darcy Clay or Stefan Neville -- like The Residents recording The Basement Tapes or Jonathan Richman's Thinking Fellers tribute act solo-recorded on the dole, all dolloped in Strapping Fieldhands' sloshed slapdashery.

81 songs on six tapes over two short years! Cheesy preset synths and sound effects, home organ, drum machine and double-tracked vocals, guitar and bass and banjo. Riffs for Africa, Velvet earworms, effortless songcraft out the metaphorical wazoo, plus jokes 'n' puns & drones 'n' gems a-poppin'.

Download and overdose on this underlooked ol' wunderkind! Unreservedly recommended.

Fat Spring Coal & Diamonds In The Lava (1987)

Lallapaloosa (1987)

Public Address (1987)

18 Milky Bar Odes (1987)

A Thousand And One Stag Nights (1988)

Gloss (1988)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Drone - Drone (1989)

Debut album from late-80s Auckland minimalist avant-garde art schoolers Drone. Not what I expected when I discovered them around the turn of the century, my post-Free Noise sensibilities presuming heavy electric drunge.

This is not that: instead it's sombre and sober, astringent acoustic strings with vocal harmonies and scant samples, detuned chimings and chants braided into unison rhythms. Rich and thick (like good American ketchup or bad American presidents), sensitive and affecting, very smart yet from the gut.

The marching piano on second track 'Carcass' bounces like an obscurely perky This Kind of Punishment, while 'Music for Guitar + Piano' could be a Terry Riley-led Abel Tasmans painting a McCahon. Other tracks call to mind a synth-less 
Marie and the Atom, stripped down or vigorous as in knotty ‘pop’ tracks like ‘Lofty’ by Out of the Compost, or ‘Black Thoughts’ or ‘Ethiopian Dream’ by Thin Red Line. 

Get the whole story at AudioCulture, and pick up their first 7-inch here.

This Carcass I Beg To Slaughter

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Semmy-Compleet Smelly Feet (1981-82)

Brent Hayward -- a stabler Syd Barrett, a glib Pip Proud, a scatter-brained Bill Direen, a slipshod Crispin Glover -- the hands and mind behind Shoes This High, Smelly Feet, The Kiwi Animal, Fats White (and so on). Earnest weirdness and unsmiling silliness which swings from intimate revelation to dispassionate observation track by track. Andrew Schmidt's got a full write-up on Brent Hayward's post-Shoes This High story on AudioCulture

This post is 'semmy-compleet' as the third 7-inch can be found at the excellent Forgotten New Zealand 45s blog.

Smelly Feet - As Seen On TV (1981)

The ideal initiation into the Smelly Feet scheme, from the seasick and slinky 'North Of Anywhere' to the sweet ennui of 'A Song For The World', then on to the miniature municipal metaphor 'Vegetable Market' before merrily surrendering to the apocalypse with 'E.O.T.W.I.T.'. 

A scan of the complete fold-out 7-inch sleeve is included. A wee bit of distortion on this rip. 

Smelly Feet - OHMS (1981)

The punkest of the three releases presented here -- 'OHMS' is shouty and strident, repetitive like Kiwi Animal's 'Woman And Man Have Balance', intercut with lyrical nihilist declaimings. Then there's the grotty-vibed 'My Festured Toe' [sic], and the chastising 'Comparisons'. Detuned, clatter-stringed guitar. 

No cover. Quite a crackly rip, sorry. 

Smelly Feet - Left Odours (1982)

Snippets, quite a few complete songs, and euphonious streams-of-consciousness -- 22 total tracks recorded at home and gigs, on four-track and portable tape recorders. The good stuff here is like first-take Kiwi Animal, Hayward's (admittedly idiosyncratic) songcraft and playing both edging toward that Brent and Julie apogee. Not at all a 'for the real fans only!!!!' Dead Letter Office, rather a rare find -- like a faded denim jacket in your size at the op shop which is both impeccably zirconia-bedazzled and prog-metal patched. 

The first three pieces on the a-side are furiously lofi -- like, no-fi -- and I worried that the tape was degraded, but by ‘Kenny’ they are much clearer, so hang in there. It's promptly obvious from the varying track quality that the indiscriminate fidelity is intentional. I've stereo compensated as it was heavily left-leaning, and boosted the volume of the ultra-lofi bits.