After last nights late night at the Brewery it was nice to get to a venue like Darkroom to catch Seth Frightening and Glass Vaults in a more welcoming environment. The Archive (Darkroom’s parent building which also houses Galaxy Records and the new RDU permanent studio) is quickly becoming one of my favorite places, with great shows, warm hosts, fantastic drinks, home-made snacks and brilliant events.
Seth Frightening carried on from last night, reveling the crowd in their fuzzy, involving and enveloping sound. Glass Vaults were again top-notch, drawing the crowd forward with their hypnotic sound, driven by that killer percussion (though I did have to rescue the floor tom from collapsing mid-set).
Returning to Christchurch for the first time in a long while and after a European tour and Internet semi-stardom (have you seen all those remakes of his ‘gravy rainbow’ video?), Disasteradio! was a bit ill, but soldiered one like a trooper, with his usual self-depreciating humor and fantastic stage performance. The vocally driven numbers like the classic ‘hotline‘ and the brilliant ‘no pulse‘ were particular crowd favorites, with Zak (of Bang Bang Eche / Teen Fortress) filling in on vocals for Christina. Great fun, as is the new album ‘Charisma’, available as a pay-what-you-want purchase – even the vinyl LP!
Glass Vaults were totally chill in the pool, but I missed Rat vs. Possum on the main stage. Unfortunately i’ve lost track of a bit of what went down, some renegade shows went down (including my fellow camper Jos playing a chip-tune set, and the always entertaining Cosbys – both in the renegade room) and there was much revelling…
Things really kicked in to gear next, the Coolies absolutely ripping shit to shreds in the barn. Main their new material rules, totally free form, creative and brutal – I LOVE the new generation Coolies, can’t believe i haven’t got the new LP yet…
Parking Lot Experiments played to a big crowd in the pool, completely overwhelming and yes fun once more -these guys really were one of the highlights of Campus for me, and I even managed to catch one of their shows when I got back home to Christchurch.
In previous years and in previous A low Hum tours I’ve been front row centre for My Disco. However I’m one of those lame ‘I like your early stuff better’ kind fans as I reckon their earlier LP ‘Cancer’ is their best – it’s so minimal and sharp, I just go nuts when they play that stuff… So yeah their new material doesn’t really sit so well with me. The guys are still amazingly talented, but they’ve lost a bit of that minimal, incredibly tight sound…
Luke Rowell is an A Low Hum legend; and he showed it with a stonking, chock-a-block Disasteradio! set in the pool, surrounded by laser lights and stage-invading fans. Oh man, total love-fest of cheezy awesome synthy sounds. Great fun.
Again I missed a couple official outfits – Dunedin kids TFF and the Wilberforces, PlusF in Covers, Blinks DJ Set and All Black Wolf at the party stage, but the Sneaks MORE than brought the party. Those guys are seriously my favourite party band of all time – i was jumping around like mental in the stage area of the Renegade room as Dansey was climbing all over the crowd and letting himself go. There are few bands with so many great songs (Kuzai Heart You Girl, North Shore Pussy, No Sex, Thowback etc etc) that bring such joy and fun to their shows… Thats what camp is ALL about!
So apparently thebigcity.co.nz got mentioned in RealGroove magazine this month as Top 10 distractions from work or something to that accord. Sweet! Still Im on a bit of a downer about the current status, theres just not enough updating being done outside of gig listings and photos.
I need help!
Disasteradio! performing at A Low Hum
Bios, Discogs, Album and Gig reviews; photos, you name it. The new setup should make it fairly easy to post or at least comment on the material on the site, and Im really keen for user involvement, Ive even been considering converting it into a wiki-style content driven by the masses type setup; but Im kinda wary of spam comments and the like. Oh and talking of RealGroove; their CD comp this month is choice; ChCh-town is represented by Frase+Bri, Not So Experimental, the Tiger Tones, Pig Out Its basically a homage to the fabbo Camp A Low Hum due to the mighty Stevie Kaye and Chris Cudby (aka Dancing Stevie and Super-Force / Half of Golden-Axe) who are prevalent writers for that lot now. Yah for the return of relevant indie music journalism in New Zealand!
A Low Hum is the music journalising and tour production monolith of one Ian ‘Blink’ Jorgensen; who became a big part of the New Zealand independent music scene throughout the 2000’s with a never-ending array of tours, zines, cd releases and events – usually each of impeccible taste and quality, whilst still maintaining a DIY ethic.
Blinks’ zine’s expanded to include original EPs and then CD compilations, and eventually he was distributing full albums for bands as bonus CD’s. However in October 2007 Blink celebrated the arrival of his A Low Hum label complete with the release of Disasteradio‘s excellent Visions and the Enright House‘s A Maze and Amazement – two top-notch releases from artists that have been tied to Blinks’ various endeavours for some time. Compilation Discography picks in bold
Volume: Wellington Turns Down 
A Low Hum CD1 [may 2004]
A Low Hum CD2 [june 2004]
A Low Hum CD3 [july 2004]
A Low Hum CD4 [august 2004]
A Low Hum CD5 [september 2004]
A Low Hum CD6 [october 2004]
A Low Hum CD7 [november 2004]
A Low Hum DVD1 [dec 2004]
A Low Hum CD8 [march 2005]
A Low Hum CD9 [march 2005]
A Low Hum Series 3: CD1 w/ Xanadu‘s self-titled bonus album
You ever play Q-Bert? How about Paper-Boy? Ever seen the hilarious end sequence from the Monkey Island games? I tell you what; Disasteradio! (affectionately known as D-Rad by his friends and Luke Rowell by his mum) has. In fact hes just the kind of guy to shed a thousand expletives while describing the shear power of the Fairlight keyboard system, while flying through another round of your favorite 1980s videogame. His songs are a mix of upbeat, bleepy keyboard pieces in the style of old-school video-games, and some damn funky beats making quite a favorite on the dance-floor.
In fact D-Rad has been a bit of a super-star in the A Low Hum-centered New Zealand music underground for the past few years, and hes been continually promising the release of his first Real album (after 3 self-produced CD-R releases – all now available for free via The Internet Archive) for a while now, so its great to see Blink get this to us after previously dealings with Wellington label Capital Recordings never eventuated. Visions feels like the cumulative history of his songs; pretty much how they appear these days in his genius live shows.
His songs have grown in stature, production and even managed to become more poppy and addictive. Opener Awesome Feelings (one of the many highlights from Real Groove Magazines recent New Sound compilation) is a case in point. That familiar-to-live-show-veterans opening synth line is now followed by typical D-Rad vocoded lyricisms: 1-2-3 gone have some fun, were feeling awesome coz the day is done / Living in a city thats full of squares / but we are awesome and we dont care hes an enthusiastic, positive guy.
Another obvious highlight – Hotline has been a choice little number for a couple years now. Like the best hits from Man-Machine era Kraftwerk he portrays himself as a robot just out to have some fun, and what makes more sense than an ode to the automated Telephone Exchange System? In fact Kraftwerk is a pretty firm influence on D-Rads sound; with shuffling metallic rhythm (the long-running influential German group are quite obsessed with Trains) and genuinely retro keyboard bleeps.
However, Disasteradio! is no one-trick pony. Take Back the Rave brings things forward another decade or so to the early 90s euro-rave sound, with a funky rhythm and a choice mid-song breakdown. Digital Pop marks the first appearance of Lukes vocals sans computer-vocoding (i keep thinking of Trans-Am circa Red Line), Stairdancer sounds like a mash-up of new-wave bands (with a pounding beat and swift synth line) whilst Believe in Yourself has a moody intro and ominous melody, like the soundtrack to some overcome-the-odds-type movie (and another killer breakdown thats also dead-funny).
Disasteradio! makes music for pop-music fans who like to have a little fun. Its all very positive, upbeat stuff, harkening back to younger days and whatnot, plus it makes for fine dance-floor-banger material. Great to see this finally get a full release I know Ive been looking forward to it immensely and I reckon the time spent fine-tuning and developing this mini pop-orchestras has been well worth it. A fine album.
old synth and computer gear hound, video-game fanatic and general party-guy luke rowell. a one-man band encompassing retro-eletro synths, groove-box arrangement and fucking great beats, often based on old video games, disasteradio are a quickly ascending force in the wellington underground scene.
a short time later, at a tender age heard the fine records: hot buttered: moog hits 2, and walter carlos’s “switched on bach”. developed an fascination for the commodore 64 and its astounding output. the obsession with the modulated tone had begun. spent early teens in more rock-based listening program, and now, in a last-ditch effort to combat impending old age, luke seeks what is now lost from the childhood years.
– luke rowell
so far all his material (at least – the stuff he’s released, rumor is he has a huge unreleased archive) is freely available on the web for download – though its not quite the same as his pumping live shows. in 2004 he somehow managed to drag a ton of old gear across the country with the a low hum tours, and rumor is a commercial release might be on the way. though a commercial release never surfaced in 2005 or 2006, the good folk at a low hum finally released the much-promised Synthtease on the back of a low hum compilation release; ensuring a pretty wide-release. in early 2006 Luke’s performance on the main stage at Camp Low Hum had to be one of the highlights of the whole event – with a MAMMOTH stage invasion, 200 enthusiastic fans jumping up and down (causing havoc with Luke’s gear, stopping the set on 2 occasions), Disasteradio! truely brought the party.
picks in bold
disasteradio [2002 self-released]
disasteradio’s system that never fails [2003 self-released]
dsir: dance self-instruction record [2003 self-released]
western digital 
synthtease [2005 A Low Hum Included as part of Series 3, Issue 4]