For their first Christchurch performance together in a very long time, A Handful of Dust (otherwise known as long-time influential New Zealand fringe musicians Alastair Galbraith and Bruce Russell) played the excellently TelstraClear Club, a ‘Yurt’ structure put together for Christchurch Arts Month. Click here for the photoset.
The show featured Alastair Galbraith explaining the bizarre history of the Glass Harmonium and with both Alastair and Bruce performing solo sets before they came together for an ear-bending finale.
Violinist Alastair Galbraith‘s first band. Flanked by Robbie Muir (who went on to make his name with the Dead C)and Peter Jefferies they put out 2 extremely hard to find eps in the mid 80s that show-case Galbraith’s brilliant talent for song-writing at an early age.
Galbraith was originally inspired by witnessing the Clean playing a series of hall gigs back in Dunedin, and immediately formed the Rip with Muir. Both were only 15, so early live performances were a bit of a struggle. Thankfully after a particularly tragic debut (their even younger drummer Nicholas couldn’t make the show – a roped in replacement murdering the 2 songs they managed to play), Wayne Elsey (the Stones / Double Happys) offered a helping hand:
[Wayne Elsey] was there and asked me to come and sit on the steps with him, and just…Blew me away. He told me that i had something, something that he couldn’t really describe, not a great musical talent or instrumental proficiency, more of a spirit that he could see when i played, and that i had to keep doing it. He offered to help me any way he could, and he actually did that over the next few months. He got Robbie a better bass, let us use their practice space, got us gigs supporting the Stones and just encouraged us the whole time, saving us from a very, very short career.
– Alastair Galbraith
Bass player for the Clean and highly prolific singer-songwriter for the Bats (whom he formed while the Clean were on hiatus in the mid 80s), Rob Scott released his own solo album in 2000, and took the albums name (Creeping Unknown) as his moniker for subsequent tours around New Zealand, Europe and the United States.
However closely linked to the Bats, The Creeping Unknown was a darker album aimed at being an organic cross-pollunation type release (it encompassed a lot of electronically produced soundscapes and texture) than any of his Bats recordings. It faired pretty well, being a pretty clean progression towards a more modern sound (though not quite as effectively as say, Shayne Carters’ Dimmer project).
Since 2002 Scott has become increasingly prolific once more, with a variety of home-recorded releases appearing on the low-rent Powertools label, on more professional efforts on Flying Nun, and a couple of joint singles.
Discography (picks in bold)
Black Forest 7″ [w/ Alastair Galbraith 1998 Self-Released]
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 
Whats That Noise? 7″ album 
I Hear The Devil Calling Me 7″ album [distributed by drag city 1993]
Xpressway is no longer active, but you can contact label-head Bruce Russell directly:
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.
One of Bruce Russell’s (Dead C) darkest outfits, often dealing with distinct imagery and motif’s in their music and especially pro-nounced in their liner notes (most of which are distributed through Russell’s Corpus Hermeticum label). Essentially a Russell solo show, but Alastair Galbraith and Peter Stapleton are both regular contributors.