Starting life as the Gordons, Bailterspace were one of the most abrassive aggressive and (primarily) loudest bands to ever emerge out of Christchurch and the Flying Nun scene of the early 80s. Comprised of Alister Parker on guitar/vox, John Halvorsen on bass and Brent Mclachlan on drums, the Gordons were the sonic exploration end of the dunedin sound, creating tremendous walls of weedback and distortion, never seen before on the New Zealand scene. Parker’s deadpan monotone growl was the icing on the cake in these early albums, and the Gordons were reasonably successful as a local act before disintegrating in 1986, releasing two solid albums on Flying Nun.
Parker formed Bailterspace in 1987 (initially as Nelsh Bailter Space), retaining his role from the Gordons years, but bringing in the Clean‘s Hamish Kilgour on lead guitar, the Pin Group‘s Ross Humphries on bass and Glenda Bills on drums. This line-up never seemed to settle though, with Kilgour switching to drums, Humphries and Bills leaving the group to make way for original Gordons bass player John Halvorsen to resume the bass playing role. This line-up recorded their stunning, ear-bashing debut Tanker, but once Kilgour had rejoined the Clean full time again in time for 1989’s Modern Rock, Brent Mclachlan was brought back in to complete the original Gordons line-up.
Through out the 90s, Bailterspace continued to release brilliant, dense rock albums, cultivating their wall-of-sound to the point of My Bloody Valentine comparisons, but Bailter Space were always more aggressive and indeed louder than their Irish cousins. After several impressive North American tours, Matador signed the band for American distribution, releasing the 4 song ep The Aim to a burgeoning US audience. The positive feedback that Vortura and Wammo (their mid 90s classics) receieved led to the band relocating to New York.
After adapting to a looser, more ‘Indie’ sound with 97s Capsul, the band then set about a less hectic schedule, gradually developing their sound at a more relaxed pace, taking several years between Capsul and Solar.3, even after the more considerable amount of press these albums receieved. In 2004 the (newly coporatized) Flying Nun / Festival Mushroom Group issued a best-of compilation compiling the history of Bailterspace. Though put together and designed by the band themselves and contains many classic character-defining Bailterspace songs, the compilation skimps on any band info or details along with some of the more direct and obvious compilation choices, leaving their albums (particularly Tanker and Wammo) much better starting points for the band.
After a lengthy hiatus whilst the members were living in various cities in New Zealand and the United States, Bailterspace re-emerged in 2012 with new recordings on the Arch Hill label – previewing tracks on-line before the new albums eventual release in August 2012 – some 14 years since Solar.3 was released!
Discography (picks in bold)
- Nelsh Bailter Space EP [1987 Flying Nun Fn094]
- ‘New Man’/’In A City Wardrobe’ 7″ Single [1987 Flying Nun Fn096]
- ‘Grader Spader’/’The Escalator Song’/’N.B.S.’ 12″ Single [1988 Flying Nun Fn106]
- Tanker [1988 Flying Nun Fn107 / Fne31]
- Thermos [1990 Flying Nun Fn142 / Fne32]
- The Aim Ep [1992 Flying Nun / Clawfist Fn232]
- ‘Shine’/’Unseen’ 7″ Single [1992 Clawfist]
- Robot World [1993 Flying Nun Fn259]
- B.E.I.P. EP [1993 Flying Nun Fn284]
- Vortura [1994 Flying Nun / Matador Fn295]
- Splat EP [1995 Flying Nun]
- Retro CD Single [1995 Flying Nun]
- Wammo [1995 Flying Nun / Matador]
- Capsule [1997 Turnbuckle]
- Capsule 7″ Single [1997 Turnbuckle]
- Solar.3 [1998 Turnbuckle]
- Photon EP [1998 Turnbuckle]
- Bailterspace Compilation [2004 Flying Nun]
- Strobosphere [2012 Arch Hill]