Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos

Biography

Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos were a Dunedin-based duo consisting of Michael Morley (Guitar/Organ/Vocals – before forming the Dead C, 2 Foot Flame, Angelhead, Tanaka-Nixon Meeting, The Weeds) and Richard Ram (Bass/Guitar/Vocals) – though in an early video recording Morley states the group had formed ‘Up North’ before heading to Dunedin. The duo released a handful of handmade cassettes and had an affiliation with Bob Scott’s Every Secret Thing label, with both album releases and compilation appearances. Their most well known material is the River Falling Love EP which was released on Flying Nun in 1986 before being expanded and re-released by US label Ajax in 1993. Morley formed the Dead C in 1987, effectively bring an end to Wreck Small Speakers.

Featuring performances from other Dunedin musicians: Denise Roughan (Recorder/Vocals – Look Blue Go Purple, The 3Ds, Ghost Club), Ivan Purvis (Guitar – Love In A Gas Oven, Alpaca Brothers), Lesley Paris (Drums – Look Blue Go Purple, The Puddle, Olla), Bruce Blucher (Drums – Cyclops, Trash, Fats Thompson, Brown Velvet Couch, Alpaca Brothers) and Martin Kean (The Chills, Doublehappys, Fats Thompson, Stereolab). The groups recordings are based around strong rhythm tracks – usually plucked bass guitar and drum machine, with shout-sung vocals, fractured guitar riffs and organ squeels, with samples and other sound manipulations added into the mix. Though experimental, Wreck Small Speakers retained a high level of musicality and accessibility.

Both their creative genius and the quality of their songs really shines through on the groups lo-fi cassette recordings. The slinky, funky bass and proto-rap vocals on ‘Over My Skull’, the low-key beauty of River Falling Love highlight ‘All Of This’, and Denise Roughan’s wonderful appearance on their most well-known song ‘Rain’. Small scraps of the bands fairly substantial discography have appeared in the digitally archived era, however if ever there was a Flying Nun associated act that could use an anthology release it would be Wreck Small Speakers – its been almost two decades since Morley’s Dead C band mate Bruce Russell released A Child’s Guide To Wreck Small Speakers on his own Xpressway label.

Members

  • Michael Morley (Guitar/Organ/Vocals, 198?-1987)
  • Richard Ram (Bass/Guitar/Vocals, 198?-1987)
  • Denise Roughan (Recorder/Vocals, 198?)
  • Lesley Paris (Drums, 198?)
  • Ivan Purvis (Guitar, 198?)
  • Bruce Blucher (Drums, 198?)
  • Martin Kean (198?)

Discography

  • My Blue Fairy Godmother [1983 Wrecked Music WRECK14]
  • 3.V.M. EP [1983 Wrecked Music WRECK20]
  • Over My Skull Cassette Single [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 06]
  • Cave Cassette [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 21]
  • Worlds Fall Apart cassette [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 24]
  • A Summer In Taradale Cassette [1985 self-released]
  • River Falling Love ep [1986 Flying Nun FN068]
  • A Child’s Guide To Wreck Small Speakers Cassette [1988 Xpressway XWAY03]
  • River Falling Love Reissue [1993 Ajax AJAX 029]

Links

The Renderers

The Renderers are New Zealand’s prime example of southern-fried country, and are indeed one of our finest ever bands. Brian Crook formed the Renderers with his partner Maryrose in early 90s christchurch when the Max Block Group failed to go anywhere. He was already part of the Scorched Earth Policy / terminals sequence of bands that was picking up wind again – but the Renderers were the Crooks band (they’ve cycled through line-ups, with John Billows, Peter Mitchell (also of squirm and Hiss Explosion), Denise Roughan (the 3Ds, Look Blue Go Purple et all), Robbie Yeats Dead C, verlaines) and Haydn Jones, whilst the Crooks’ have always remained consistent.

Their early recordings stuck to a strictly country approach and seemed a bit too forced and distant, it wasn’t until the band relocated to port chalmers, a small bay just outside of dunedin that the Renderers really found their sound. Maryrose’s vocal on the 7″ sincle ‘a million lights” is like a defining moment in New Zealand rock. An achingly beautiful, brief song that has since featured on many Flying Nun and xpressway compilations, the song typified the Renderers new found dark and country-tinged rock sound.

Over the course of the 90s, the Renderers albums grew stronger and stronger – culminating in the masterpiece that is 1998’s dream of the sea. Featuring a wonderful cover of Ritchie Venus forgotten gem forbidden planet and a swagger of fine, dark songs themed around the sea, it was welcomed with open arms by the u.s. Underground music scene, whilst going mostly ignored in New Zealand. The Renderers are still going strong, touring sporadically, whilst both Maryrose and Brian have released their own solo material (most notable Brian’s 2002 album as Bible Black, and Maryroses contributions to the Arc Life series of dunedin music compilations).

In early / mid 2004 during the process of organising a christchurch show with the band, i managed to conduct an interview with the duo, and have kept up to date on their schedule for future releases. Since the recent demise of arc life, plans are now intact for the Renderers to start their own label. With Maryrose’s first solo release, a further solo release from Brian in a form similar to that of his fractured solo debut bathysphere under his current Anti-Clockwise performing alias, and perhaps the 5th Renderers release on the way, to boot.
circa mid-2005 the group made further line-up changes, this time coinciding with a possible move back to christchurch. Original bassist john bellows was reinstated, and drummer mike daly (also of Eskimo and formerly YFC) become the groups rhythm section for a one-off christchurch show, still preceeding the highly-anticipated 5th album.

discography
picks in bold

  • trail of tears [1991 Flying Nun fn184]
  • ‘bigger than texas’/’revival radio’ 7″ single [1991 Flying Nun fn185]
  • ‘a touch of evil’/’howling at the moon’ 7″ single [1993 Flying Nun fn254]
  • that dogs head in the gutter gives off vibrations [1995 Ajax ajax042]
  • surface of jupitor [1996 Ajax]
  • dream of the sea [1998 Siltbreeze]
  • ghost of our vegas lives [2005 as ‘Maryrose Crook’ Tinsel Ears]

recommended songs

download from mp3.co.nz

  • dream of the sea
  • i hear the devil calling me
  • pure poison
  • a million lights
  • forbidden planet
  • dimmer waters

See-Also

Xpressway

Xpressway was formed by Bruce Russell in 1985 to release his then-fledgling Christchurch band the Dead C, live archival recordings from This Kind Of Punishment and the debut solo material from Alastair Galbraith. Over the course of the next 23 (mostly cassette-only) releases, Xpressway, Russell and his comrades themselves formed an ever-growing niche-market of dark, brooding releases, mostly in lo-fidelity form, but full of character.

Xpressway was the label that set the careers of Stephen Cogle, Peter Stapleton and Brian Crook (between them being a major part of Victor Dimisich, Scorched Earth Policy, the Terminals and the Renderers), the Jefferies brothers and David Mitchell in motion, quite an achievement. Their brilliant compilations Xpressway Pile-Up and Making Losers Happy were re-released by overseas labels in the early 90s, hastening the influence of these inspiring 23 releases.

Russell ended the label once they had achieved global recognition, as he had always intended Xpressway to be a stepping-stone toward competent distribution, and they had achieved that by the early 1990s with American labels like Siltbreeze, Drunken Fish, and Kranky and European labels Turbulence, Ajax and Raffmond picking up a fair portion of the labels many talented musicians. Russell then launched Corpus Hermeticum – an outlet for even more challanging music (mostly by his own personal pool of musicians, but expanding into even overseas experimental and underground musicians).

Compilation Discography
Picks In Bold

  • Xpressway Pile Up [1988 XWAY5]
  • I Hate Pavel Tishy’s Guts [1989? promo issued in 2 versions XWAY6]
  • Xpressway Pile=up [reissue with extra tracks 1990]
  • Making Losers Happy [1991]
  • Whats That Noise? 7″ album [1992]
  • I Hear The Devil Calling Me 7″ album [distributed by drag city 1993]

Contact Details

This Kind Of Punishment

After Nocturnal Projections went their seperate ways in the early 80s, the two Jefferies brothers formed This Kind Of Punishment, a group that expanded their song-writing capabilities, and the punky style in which Nocturnal Projections had created. This Kind Of Punishment’s albums are quite often eery and detached, with Peter’s voice cutting through the shards of piano and guitar like it was deathly silence. Over the years the brothers accumulated a large list of contributors, with Andrew Frengley, Gordon Rutherford, Michael Harrison, Maxine Fleming, Michael Morley, Alastair Galbraith, Shayne Carter and the burgeoning talents of Grant Fell and Chris Matthews (who would later take the essence of the Matthews penned ‘Sleepwalking’ as the basis for a Headless Chickens track – and make it a hit).

This Kind Of Punishment have had a huge impact on the darker side of New Zealand rock, and their 1st two releases are well worth seeking out. By 1984 TKOP were a four-piece comprised of the two Jefferies brothers, Fell and Matthews – and played live consistently, touring the nation with Jay Clarkson‘s Expendables (from which the tkp live ’85 album is culled).

Soon after, an arts festival, “the nit-picker’s picnic,” dissolved this amalgam and a single 1986 performance with the line-up of the jefferies brothers, michael morley and shayne carter saw the end of the band.
– Dan Vallor: taken from Popwatch #9

Cakekitchen), whilst Fell and Matthews (and one-time TKOP contributor Johnny Pierce) were already establishing Childrens Hour, the fore-runner to the ever-popular Headless Chickens.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • This Kind Of Punishment [1983 Flying Nun Tkp001]
  • A Beard Of Bees [1985 Self-Released Tkp002] Rn
  • 5 By Four Ep [1985 Flying Nun Tkp003]
  • In The Same Room [1987 Flying Nun Tfp004]
  • Tkp Live ’85 [1988 Xpressway X/Way 02]
  • A Beard Of Bees Cassette Reissue [1990 Compiled Reissue Xpressway X/Way 15]
  • This Kind Of Punishment [1993 Reissue Roofbolt]
  • In The Same Room / 5 By Four [1993 Reissue Ajax]

See-Also

Maryrose and Brian Crook [April 2004]

It’s been a year since Christchurch last saw the renderers play live, what have the group been up to meantime?

The band (well, Maryrose and I) has been baby-sitting. After that show we spent 6 months in Invercargill, Maryrose painting and travelling and interacting with students, which will culminate in an exhibition at the Southland Art Gallery under the Southland Art Trust. During that time Brian was doing mixes on Maryrose’s solo album that was recorded just before we left town. We only did 2 days of recording so there were some takes that needed repair, but were too good to leave off. The album is close to finished with just the final vocals to go on. It will probably be billed as Maryrose Crook and the Renderers, since that’s exactly what it is. Currently Maryrose is painting for a follow-up show to her last years Brooke-Gifford exhibition, also she is trying to get a new work finished for the prospect show up in Wellington in May, so art has been the main devourer of time.

(Brian’s side-project) Bible Black released an excellent self-titled release on Arc Life in 2002 – can we expect a follow-up?

He (Brian) is currently finishing another solo album, this one is a more computer based thing called Anti-Clockwise, referring to the lack of danceable rhythms over the whole thing. Its shaping up as the best of the solo recordings so far, and manages to get quite rocky in parts, though not many.

The Renderers last album was 1998’s ocean-themed Dream of the Sea – a sprawling and dark album (which I would consider your finest moment) that came out on American independent label Siltbreeze…

We have been back in touch with Tim Adams who ran the Ajax label the mid 90s albums were released on. He semi shut down Ajax in 1997, which was why we went with Siltbreeze, but he has a new label enigmatically called 3 Beads of Sweat, so we’re looking forward to working with him again. It also means we can get copies of the older titles again.

With the recent and saddening death of the Arc Life label front-man Michael Brassell, how do you see the Dunedin label’s future?Aside from being a noted musician maryrose, you mentioned you’ve been busy with artwork. Is there a parallel between your music and painted works? where do you draw inspiration?

As far as painting and music go, i think that the main link is that i tend to write lyrics with visual imagery in them anyway and this made it easier for me when i took up painting because there was already a lot of imagery for me to draw on. I think that’s why my painting style developed relatively quickly – i was already thinking in those terms anyway. As far as inspiration goes, after completing a group of songs or paintings i try not to think about creating anything at all for a while (sometimes too long in Brian’s opinion!) and just wait to see what will set me off. I hang around the library and read a lot, watch films etc and last year after the William Hodges in Invercargill we travelled round the south for nearly a month taking photos and looking around. Ultimately i find that after a while things will start to jump out at me, either things i’ve read or images in photos we’ve taken etc, but mixed up in there with images that have set me off are always things relating directly to my life – feelings, emotions etc – in the Renderers we have tended to specialise in turning difficult times into songs but i guess lately that i have also tried to paint my way out of holes. I do try not to think too hard about what to paint or even what i am painting when i’m doing it because when i don’t have my brain too fully engaged i do much more interesting things and the final painting or song or whatever will often mean a lot more to me once it’s finished if i haven’t planned it to the nth degree. I listen to music obsessively when i’m painting – i did two whole shows on the soundtrack to Deadman and still find it hard to replace that one – i’ve almost left it long enough to play again now! Eraserhead was close and God Speed You Black Emporer almost worked as well but it wasn’t the same.

The Renderers played Christchurch on friday April 23rd at Creation along with the Terminals and an acoustic performance from Hamish Kilgour (the Clean / Magick Heads etc).

Roy Montgomery

Though appearing in teenage combo the Psychedeliks as early as 1971, Roy Montgomery emerged in the early 1980s as the deep-voiced guitarist for the Pin Group, one of New Zealand’s finest under-appreciated post-punk outfits. Though the Pin Group etched their name into New Zealand history as the very first band to be released on Flying Nun with their gritty debut single ‘Ambivalence’, Montgomery literally disappeared from the music world, after the demise of the Pin Group and it’s short-lived successor the Shallows.

After spending a great part of the 1980s traveling the world and discovering other avenues (including following Bill Direen‘s lead into the theatrical arts), it took Peter Stapleton‘s encouragement to bring this talented guitarist back to music, just as he had established a teaching role in Christchurch. Montgomery, Stapleton and Kim Pieters formed Dadamah, a more reserved and fleshed out, textural approach to music which re-invigorated Montgomerys live performing.

Dadamah gave way to Dissolve (a performing duo of Montgomery and Remarkables guitarist Chris Heaphy), and the first immergence of Montgomery solo recordings in the early 1990s. By now Montgomery had established a very distinct approach to playing a recording.

Montgomery spent his most prolific, style-defining period cooped up in a New York apartment. With just his bet-up 4-pickup Teisco guitar and a 4-track recorder, montgomery started producing vast soundscapes. Odes to the New Zealand countryside, and composed as lengthy evolving suites. His Fantasia on a theme by Sandy Bull from the fantastic Harmony of the Spheres boxset is a 20 minute journey filled with huge peaks and lulls – a masterpiece of interwoven guitar.

I would probably best describe Montgomery’s playing as an elegant, shimmering molass of guitar, rich with reverberation and slow-burning melodies. Montgomeries acknowledged masterpieces (such as the sublime Songs from the South Island and True – also with Chris Heaphy) are very evocative, visual works. Often composed completely free of vocals (though not always), Montgomery forms songs as soundscapes to environments, places, and moments in time.

As we rolled further into the 21st century, Montgomery again retreated from the live and recorded music scenes, continuing his role as a university lecturer and raising his young family. Thankfully in 2004 and 2005 he did return for two live performance in New Zealand, playing the Lines of Flight and Southern Oscillations festivals in Dunedin and Castle Hill (in-land from Christchurch). Performing as the Torlesse Supergroup with Nick Guy (formerly of wonderful space dronsters Barnard’s Star), these appearances might be an indication that we can expect future releases from one of New Zealand’s finest reclusive musicians.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • ‘Submerged And Colourful’ / ‘Cousinsong’ 7″ Single [1995 Hecuba]
  • ‘Long Night’ / ‘Its Cold Outside’ / ‘Film As A Subversive Art’ / ‘German Sister’ Double 7″ Single [1995 SiltbreezeSb58/59]
  • Songs From The South Island [1995 Drunken FishDfr-22]
  • Temple Iv [1995 KrankyKranky008]
  • ‘Zabriskie Point I/Ii’ 7″ Single [1995 Gyttja]
  • Goodbye [1995 W/ Flying Saucer Attack VhfVhf26]
  • ‘Something Else Again’ / ‘Adrift’ 7″ Single [1995 Roof BoltRb 004]
  • ‘Just Melancoly’ / ‘Used To’ 7″ Single [1996 Ajax]
  • Two Trajectories 7″ Single [Enraptured]
  • ‘Sterling Morrison, Corner 10th and First, 1966’ Split 7″ Single [1996 W/ Loren Connors GyttjaOoze-08]
  • Winter Songs 10″ Ep [1997 Roof Bolt]
  • ‘Cumulus And Fugue’ Split 7″ Single [1997 W/ Azusa Plane Colorful Clouds For AcousticsCloud 004]
  • E.N.D. 7″ Single [1998 Drunken FishDfr-27]
  • And Now The Rain Sounds Like Life Is Falling Down Through It [1998 Drunken FishDfr-41]
  • ‘London Is Swinging By His Neck’ 7″ Single [1998 W/ Kirk Lake Rocket GirlRgirl3]
  • ‘Particle’/’Wave’ 7″ Single [1998 Varispeed01 Varispeed]
  • True [1999 W/ Chris Heaphy Kranky]
  • 324 E. 13th St. #7 [1999 Compilation Drunken Fish]
  • Harmony Of The Spheres [1999 Triple Lp Compilation Split With Various Others Drunken FishDfr-50]
  • Allegory Of Hearing [2000 Drunken FishDfr-47]
  • Read Less Books Cassingle [2000 W/ Kirk Lake Victory Garden]
  • Silver Wheel Of Prayer [2001 Vhf Vhf49]
  • Split album with Grouper [2010 Root Strata RSGR004]
  • Split LP with Bruce Russell [2012 Grapefruit]

See-Also