Valve

Valve’s E Minor is a lovely slice of Dunedin pop from a fresh-faced band of scene-survivors. Comprised of Paul Winders (The Verlaines), Kiri Winders (My Deviant Daughter) and Jeff Harford (Bored Games, Doublehappys).

Discography (picks in bold)

See-Also

Suka

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Koru Ep [1993]
  • Shower Unit Lathe-Cut 10″ Ep [Tapeworm]
  • Nimrodiabolique [1995 Volt]
  • ‘Tower Of Babel’/’Indoor Animal Park’ Lathe-Cut 7″ [1997 Tapeworm]
  • Spitwinterspit Lathe-Cut 12″ Ep [1998 Arc Life Arclife002]
  • Dancing To Tibet Ep [2001 Arc Life Arclife013]

See-Also

Arc Life

Excellent ‘home-grown’ indie formed by the arc life trust, an arts organization that formed out of the arc cafe in central dunedin. releasing a number of aptly titled compilations each year (usually with a specific focus, i.e. ‘arc life’ was a live album, ‘arc beats’ more electronically-aimed and accompanied by a cook book.. of all things).

They’ve been a brilliant resource to up and coming musicians in the south, releasing loving-produced small run release and promoting them from the cafe, and allowing musicians free-access to their in-house studio (above the cafe itself). now run by mike hex (of the hiss explosion) and featuring a plethora of different artists on their quickly growing catalog (Mestar, Cloudboy / Demarnia Lloyd, Bible Black, Sola Monday, David Kilgour etc etc).

Sadly in early 2004, label coordinator Mike Brassell (aka the well-loved Mikey Hex, lo-fi legend and member of squirm, the Hiss Explosion, Ape Management etc) passed on, leaving studio engineer Thom Bell to take over the reins of the studio. I had the privilege of interviewing Mike in January 2004, and organized the Christchurch memorial to him, which was well attended by friends, band-mates, and loved ones (and followed up by an even larger scale event in Dunedin).

Compilation Discography

  • music of dunedin [1998 arc001]
  • arclife [1999 arc005]
  • flying way too high [2000 arc007]
  • arc beats cd and cookbook [2001 arc011]

Contact Details

  • Arc Cafe website [official website]
  • Arc Cafe manager email [email contact]
  • +64 3 474-5135 [phone number]
  • +64 3 474-1135 [fax number]
  • Arc cafe, 135 high St, Dunedin, New Zealand

Brian Crook – Bible Black

2002, Arc Life, ARCLIFE019

As half of the writing force behind seminal Christchurch/Dunedin fuzz-country rockers The Renderers (with his wife Mary-Rose), Brian Crook [aka Bible Black] has been making dirty, downtrodden stories since the late 80’s.

In 1997 The Renderers released what is considered their archetypal (and best) album, the soaring ‘Dream of the Sea’, but its been slim-pickings since then with single releases and sporadic performances coming amidst line-up and label changes. This latest release is essentially a Brian Crook solo album, albeit with the occasional guest vocal from Mary-Rose – boiling The Renderers sound down to their most minimalist (and at times exceedingly effective).

The songs are generally dark and brooding. Crook lacks the climactic tendencies in his voice that Mary-Rose exudes so freely. But with songs like ‘Baby Doll’, crook’s voice paints strong character sketches – “You seem so agitated, and there’s liquor down your dress”, creating images of backwoods folk with chemical dependencies and tawdry relationships. He sounds so world-worn and forbidding, that his multi-layered guitar becomes the perfect backdrop to these songs.

Opener ‘Leaves upon the lawn’ sees Crook crooning gently over three guitar-lines and the faint drift of organ, very melancholy stuff. A rattly slide guitar forms the lead – quite a change from The Renderers theatrical sonic attack built upon walls of feedback. Slowly paced and careful, it’s the soundtrack for a dark and smoky room in the most tragic of movies.

Country slide guitar rears its head on ‘What were they thinking’, a campfire song in the Johnny Cash vein. Crook is a brilliant live guitarist, creating unorthodox shards of feedback, whilst still maintaining a southern-fried tone – but here things are brought down a few notches to glorious effect. Like his Dunedin compatriot Dave Mitchell (formerly of the 3D’s and now the man behind the brilliant Ghost Club project) his guitar playing is more about restraint than release. Though it seems calm and melodic, there is something down below ready to erupt at any moment, and it’s that tension that drives the songs.

The only possible problem with the album is that at times it feels like Crook is re-treading familiar territory, though the album is certainly charismatic and gritty in the inimitable crook style. Things make a rapid right turn with ‘hell of a woman’ though- a blast of guitar bursts out unexpectedly. A rising crescendo riff that invigorates the middle section of the album, it’s the kind of anarchistic moment you can generally expect from a Renderers performance.

It’s an inviting return from New Zealand’s own alt-country underground star, now back at home under the ever-popular (and for good reason) Arc Life label, after spending the last couple of albums with Philadelphia-based Siltbreeze records. Lastly, remember to keep an eye out for The Renderers fully-fledged return early next year – it promises to be a stunner.

The Clean

Biography

Formed in 1978 by David Kilgour (gat/vox) and Peter Gutteridge (bass / vox), and eventually settled on Hamish Kilgour (drums / vox) as the permanent 3rd member after an assortment on configurations came and went (Doug Hood enjoyed a short tenure as vocalist, before leaving town as Toy Love‘s sound man, and Lindsay Hooke featured in several configurations).

Gutteridge was a major force in the band until artistic differences saw him leave (later forming Snapper), to eventually be permanently replaced by Rob Scott in 1980. They were at their prime when touring in the early 80’s, and the compendium of these years (entitled Compilation) documents this period beautifully.

The Clean developed what was dubbed the Dunedin Sound. A somewhat dark take on noise rock that incorporated elements of classic pop, driving rock’n’roll. Sardonic and almost creepy take on lyrics, with vocals to match. David Kilgour employed open guitar tunings and Rob Scott produced rhythmic, repetitive bass lines, that Hamish Kilgour would compliment with pummeling, primal drum rhythms (though role changes were common, all 3 members sung and played guitar) – all tinted by the Kilgour brothers penchant for psychedelic and scratchy lo-fi.

Over the course of the next 20 years, the band would go on long breaks and split a number of times for the members to form their own bands (most notably Rob Scotts’ the Bats and David Kilgour‘s solo outfits). After original single Tally Ho shot up the New Zealand chart in 1981 – simultaneously establishing The Clean and the Flying Nun label that had formed around them, The Clean released the pinnacle of their recorded out – the hugely influential Boodle Boodle Boodle ep. The EP managed to actually better the singles success, eventually reaching number 5 in the New Zealand singles chart (astounding for an independent release in the early 80s) and remaining in the charts for a full 6 months, easily reaching gold status.

The follow up EP ‘Great sounds great, Good sounds good..’ was another success, but by now the band were tiring of their new found fame, and worried about the effect success would have on their music. Needless to say The Clean disbanded at the top of their game in 1982 with the release of the momentous Getting Older single (a genuine perfect pop song). It wasn’t long though before the original clean line-up (with a returning peter gutteridge) reformed as the Great Unwashed – a poppier and more acoustically based approach than their early recordings. The Great Unwashed never quite reached the peaks of The Clean and again they disbanded (after a mere 2 EP’s yet again), with each member going back to their subsequent side-projects.

Thankfully, throughout the later 80s and into the 90s, The Clean never really stayed apart for too long, and after a while the (now cemented) trio of Kilgour, Kilgour and Scott were back to a more permanent existence (or at least productive between variable lengthed hiatus). Their first album proper Vehicle was a well rounded example for the band, if lacking a bit of the spark from their early eps. After establishing a reputation on the us college scene in the early 90s – yet another reunion album was planned. Modern Rock came out in 1994, and was a fairly wild departure from The Clean’s signature sound, being somewhat fragmented and often unfocused. It did however show that The Clean were capable of a wider scope, with strong pop elements and less heavy-handed lyrics than its predecessor’s.

Unknown Country – which could probably be considered their first comeback album seems to divide their fans more than any of the other albums. Its poppy where their previous albums were rocky, and quirky where they had been driving and somewhat chilling. I like the change in direction, but i know a lot of other people see the album as a band caught in two minds (usually attributed to their on again / off again history).

In 1996 Flying Nun started work on a tribute album to The Clean as part of their own 15th anniversary celebrations, gathering together a number of the musicians that define the New Zealand music scene, as well as those that have been influenced by The Clean with their own work. Overseas artists Pavement, Guided by Voices and Barbara Manning added their own tributes along side those from not only Flying Nun acts, but also the likes of a number of current electronic acts and other significant kiwi artists and bands. The album (titled God Save The Clean) was a success, and the release culminated in a gigantic gig in Auckland where The Clean were joined by a great deal of the artists who paid tribute – making a great night all round, and putting The Clean back into the limelight on the New Zealand scene.

This rekindled interest may have been a wake-up call to the boys, as they quickly became a semi-regularly touring band, and eventually began focused recording again. The result – Getaway is something of a triumph, a successful reformation by all counts and an excellent taster of The Clean’s current sound, check out the full review for more detail. The trio followed up their positive press in the United States (The Clean’s releases are now tied to David Kilgour’s US home – Merge Records) with Anthology, another document highlighting The Clean’s seminal earlier material on the first disc, but now accompanied by a well-constructed summary of their subsequent release on a 2nd disc.

Currently the band still remain mostly in hiatus. Hamish firmly resident in New York (with the Mad Scene and his own solo career), David seems to be forever gaining in stature as a solo musician in Dunedin – the Nashville recorded Frozen Orange album being a particular success. Rob Scott has always been a bedroom musician back in Dunedin (outside of the mostly-Christchurch based The Bats), though its taken Powertool Records till just recently to finally put one of his home releases out in to the market, with Tudor Gates arriving in 2004.

Members

  • David Kilgour (Guitar/Vocals, 1978 -)
  • Hamish Kilgour (Drums/Vocals, 1978 – )
  • Peter Gutteridge (Bass/Vocals, 1978 – 1979)
  • Doug Hood (Vocals, 1978)
  • Lindsay Hooke (Drums, 1979)
  • Debbie Shadbolt (Bass, 1979)
  • Jessica Walker (Bass, 1979)
  • Rob Scott (Bass/Vocals, 1980 -)

Discography

  • ‘Tally Ho!’/That Platypus’ 7″ Single [1981 Flying Nun Fn002 / Ying One]
  • Boodle Boodle Boodle 12″ EP [1981 Flying Nun Fn003]
  • Great Sounds Great, Good Sounds Good.. 12″ EP [1982 Flying Nun Fn Good001]
  • ‘Getting Older’/’Scrap Music/Whatever I Do It’S Right/Wrong’ 7″ Single [1982 Flying Nun Last1]
  • Odditties [1985 / 1995 Flying Nun / Cleano Productions Fn Odd One / Fn223]
  • Live Dead Clean 12″ EP [1985 Flying Nun Fn Ldc 001]
  • Odditties 2 [1987 W/ The Great Unwashed Flying Nun / Cleano Productions Fn Odd 2]
  • Compilation [1988/1990 Flying Nun Fn Comp001 / Fn154 / Fne03 / Fnuk03]
  • In A Live 12″ EP [1990 Flying Nun Fne29]
  • Vehicle [1990 Flying Nun Fn147]
  • Modern Rock [1994 Flying Nun Fn292]
  • Late Last Night 7″ Single [1994, Dark Beloved Cloud, DBC020]
  • ‘Trapped In Amber’/’Ludwig’ 7″ Flex-Disc [1994 Bonus With Fn292 Flying Nun Fn311]
  • Unknown Country [1996 Flying Nun Fn349]
  • Getaway [2001 Flying Nun Fn459]
  • Slush Fund Mini-Album [2001, Arc Life]
  • Anthology Double-Cd [2002 Flying Nun Fn468]
  • Cracks In The Sidewalk Ep [2002 Arc Life Arclife015]
  • Syd’s Pink Wiring System [2003 Cleano Cleano0001]
  • Mashed Compilation [2008, Arc Life, AHR033]
  • Mister Pop [2009, Arch Hill/MORR Music/Merge, AHR042/MM095/MRG325]

Links

 

Jay Clarkson

Biography

Strong female vocalist and the front-woman of a number of dependable (if never successful) kiwi acts (They Were Expendable aka The Expendables, and the Rheineck award winning Breathing Cage), stretching right back to the mid 80’s. She’s since gone solo, producing a well liked album (‘kindle’) on Dunedin community-label Arc Life.

 

Discography

  • Jay Clarkson Mini-Lp [1986, Flying Nun, Fn054]
  • Packet [1991, W/ Kaye Woodward, Flying Nun, Fn202]
  • Kindle [1999, Arc Life, Arclife006]

Links

 

Cloudboy – Down at the End of the Garden

2001, Arc Life, ARC010

Demarnia Lloyd is something of an enigma in the Dunedin music scene. Over the past 7 years her involvement in former rock outfit mink and current band Cloudboy, as well as her solo material as cloud coupe and under her own name have kept the charming vocalist very busy.

Demarnia (daughter of noted New Zealand folk artist David Lloyd and sister of Dark Tower’s Jody Lloyd) doesn’t just limit herself to music either – for the release of last years debut down at the end of the garden, she orchestrated an entire live performance for live performances.

The album is something of an epic body of work – spanning the 5 years and containing songs that have been worked and reworked numerous times over the course of their existence. The end result is an exceedingly atmospheric, dramatic soundscape – but one that can at times over-shadow Demarnia’s heartfelt lyrical content and emotional vocals.

The album starts with a rising crescendo of sitar, tabla and violin on ‘Teaboy’ – multi-instrumentalist Craig Monk making a strong impression. Demarnia over-pronounces and creates waves of dreamy vocal haze with her tremendously breathy vocals. ‘Red Rubicon’ establishes a lyrical theme throughout the album – she describes relationship in an imperfect, often disjointed fashion, but that she is there to heal all wounds. The song mixes layers of simple keyboard drum patterns with some spicy guitar work and trumpet – traces of marimba and hefty dashes of double bass create a vast tapestry of sound.

‘Cup of Roses’ starts with hefty, pounding drum beat, breaking down to a singular bass line and layers of violin floating in and out – a huge departure from the songs original composition many years ago. Unfortunately this distracts from the melancholic beauty of Lloyd’s vocals – which often express so much emotion, but are somewhat lost under the layers of multi-tracked voices and instrumentation. Thankfully the soaring cello mid-song goes a long way towards re-establishing that emotion climaxing this song of absent love. ‘(You’re so) pretty’ continues on with Lloyd’s lovelorn desires – this time over a bed of synthesizer haze, droning bass and a bed of accompanying vocals.

A storm brews throughout the claustrophobic ‘feudal’ with many string and synth rhythms creating an environment of unease (as the song expresses lyrically). A perfect example of lloyd’s visual approach to creating music – track pulse in and out like a real storm, with waves of sound flowing in and out and engulfing the listener. ‘Tebo’ carries on Lloyd’s desires for love that’s passed her by “Driving me insane, that you couldn’t stay – Tebo” over a gorgeous driving plucked guitar piece from Johannes Contag and some coloring in the form of David Lloyd’s flute and tin whistle. Following a simple rising rhythm and a drone bass backing, the track is an album highlight for me.

‘Daydreamland’ adds a layer of funkiness to Cloudboy’s sound – Contag’s funky bass along with part time contributor (and ex-Mink drummer) Heath Te Au creating more upbeat backing for Lloyd’s vocals to float. On ‘The play’, some sampled trumpet and guest john bell’s vibraphone complement the rolling rhythm – carrying on the jazzy vibe ‘Daydreamland’ created.

Cloudboy have succeeded at creating a detailed tapestry of sound, the album literally flows from song to song, drawing heartfelt emotions from Lloyd’s charismatic vocals and the ever-soaring string arrangements, and is beautifully complemented by the instrumentation coloring that Contag, Monk and Te Au bring to the album. I do feel however that as an aspect of Demarnia’s vocal style and emotional connection to these songs, that they’re perhaps better suited to a scaled down, personal approach, as she has shown many times as a live performer.

David Kilgour – A Feather in the Engine

2001, Arc Life, ARCLIFE016

The Clean seems to be drifting more towards lead guitarist David Kilgour’s now-prominent laid back sound. 2001’s reunion album ‘getaway’ was a refreshing slice of acoustic pop washed in feedback, all three members lazy vocals, mixed together with bass player Robert Scott’s jangle tendencies, and drummer Hamish Kilgour’s noise-rock leanings.

David’s first solo album since that promising reunion is as refreshing as ‘Getaway’, and seems to come together more as an album. Kilgour shows the same sense of melody he’s renowned for and even though the album doesn’t ‘rock’ as such from start to finish, he shows he can create a little heat with the more upbeat ‘today is going to be mine’.

Kilgour’s appears to be pushing his song-writing abilities, as the album is quite introspective, with David’s vocals quite up front in the mix. They are often backed only by his familiar echo-enhanced acoustic guitar. It works to a certain extent, as the album is definitely a very pleasant listen, but as with the cleans last full-length, it feels like something is missing.

We’ve seen Robert Scott flirt with more electronic and soundscape grooves on 1999’s ‘The creeping unknown’, and now Kilgour seems to be following the same path, mixing in an array of more classical instrumentation (check the ‘Instra 2’ tracks – particularly the reprise). The album comes out as more of a complete album than the clean’s previous reunion album (the pop-centered ‘unknown country’) which divided a lot their fan base – but the question still stands on whether Kilgour has succeeded in his intentions.

It’s great to see a man with such a fine ear for melody and groove as Kilgour mixing in elements of piano, cello, keyboards and violin to his guitar pieces though, and i for one appreciate his attempt to diversify his music. I’d like to see Kilgour follow through on the sound he’s slowly making his own, his solo material is sadly oft ignored – and yet contains some of the most gentle yet dramatic instrumentation and infectious lyrics of the current lo-fi scene.

Demarnia Lloyd – Set Upon a Curve

2002, Arc Life

Oh how CD’s have changed the face of music! Where once a double-album ‘opus’ from the likes of Led Zeppelin barely scraped the 60-minute mark, we now expect our albums to be at least 45 minutes long, which would have seen quite unusual to the music fans that preceded the digital age. I say this because the latest pop gem from Demarnia Lloyd of Cloudboy fame that’s sitting on my desk.

At a mere 26:30 spread over 9 tracks, one would be forgiven for thinking the album lacks meat. But all vinyl addicts know that’s not always the case, and that the best records are the ones that leave you wanting more.

Lloyd recorded this startling collection of songs at the historic remote smith’s grain-store in rural Oamaru, southern New Zealand. Taking inspiration from the harsh environment and the effect that had on her dream patterns – Lloyd sculptured the album as both highly visual (Lloyd and Cloudboy’s live appearances are often full theatrical performances) as well as thoroughly melodic.

Making considerable advances since 2000’s ‘Trace’ EP, the album is a complexly woven platter of breathy vocals, intricate and delicate instrumentation. Lloyd quickly establishes a melloncollie mode with opening track ‘over again, pull me in’. The song still retains the key traits of her previous outing, and without any form of percussion, the song customarily floats along on a pulsing bed of organic synth sounds. What she has done though is refine her sound to incorporate the fine touches the Cloudboy album had in spades.

Whereas the original EP was stark and relied almost solely on Lloyd’s fine voice, the new album has an ethereal soundscape aspect that’s thoroughly alluring.
On ‘Too long away’ Lloyd experiments with short electronic beats propelling the song further, creating a humming, pulsing rhythm reminiscent of Radiohead‘s more recent albums. In fact all number of electronic beats, crackles and shuffling grooves flow in and out of Lloyd’s dreamy, breathy multi-layered vocal.

‘A crooked road’ makes subtle use of plucked violin, the upbeat ‘Vell guitar’ features mandolin from contributor Jeff T. Mitchell, and pretty much every track takes a different approach to sculpting soothing sounds.

Lloyd is as on form as ever vocally, this time incorporating a fair amount of over-dubbed complimenting vocals, all in her inimitable hushed, refrained vocal (almost a single pitch throughout the album). The effect is quite gorgeous, the vocal equivalent of my bloody valentine’s guitar-drones.

A thoroughly engrossing and complete album, and a marked improvement over Lloyd’s previous releases. And yes, it does indeed leave me wanting more – Lloyd’s style seems to be evolving at a substantial rate of knots these days. With the popularity of Cloudboy on the rise these days, we can only hope that their, and of course Demarnia her self’s charming brand of dream-pop finds itself a greater outside audience.

Pine – Longplayer

2002, Arch Hill

Christchurch, New Zealand’s Pine have been crowd and college radio favorites over the past 3 years, crafting simple, elegant and often catchy pop hit after pop hit. After 2000’s Speeding EP, expectations nationwide have been high for their anticipated debut.

Thankfully the album is very faithful to their live sound, a nice and cheery combination of guitar, minimalist drumming (their live set entitles lead singer Stephen McCarthey donning a snare drum as the sole percussion instrument), gentle keyboard drones and wilting vocals.

McCarthey’s vocals have always been a bit of a talking point – taking on a Liam Gallagher-esque inflection. For the first time though, both keyboardist Hannah Beehre and guitarist Aaron Beehre have lent their voices to their recordings, and the results are very pleasing. The album basically expands on their previous EP – with re-recorded takes of some of their biggest successes.

‘Wanted boy’ has been beefed up with McCarthy on melodica, and Aaron’s subtle backing vocals add a level of warmth to an already great song. ‘Make way for the king’ is perhaps the albums most upbeat number – filtered vocals over a tight, short and ultra-poppy backing.