Small Blue Torch

As I understand it, small blue torch is the duo of [Campbell] Kneale and Eso Steel‘s Richard Francis (though line-up changes in this scene are not uncommon). Both are among the finest of new zealand’s current sound artists. Offering an epic double cd-r compilation as their american debut, Small Blue Torch create lovely drones and soundscapes with occasional bouts of abrasiveness and industrial/mechanical percussive repetitions. Their work is often meditative but still more dynamic than the bulk of either artists’ catalog. SBT offer haunting feedback which floats symphonically between the speakers, and with the exception of one out of place saxophone excursion, the duo create an often deeply pleasing environment. Some of the tracks are mastered to end abruptly, which is a bit disconcerting for close listening, but all in all this is great modern stoner music, best when played kinda softly
Dan Vallor: Muckraker #9

Small Blue Torch started as Campbell Kneale’s first real recording ‘noise’ band, and was quite aggressive in their approach (Kneale describes these sessions as ‘[We would] get together on sunday afternoons, demolish equipment, record live-in-the-living room and release the odd thing’. When Kneale relocated from Dunedin to Eellington, he formed the much calmer and controlled Lugosi

Discography (picks in bold)


20 City

Now defunct label run by Richard Francis – aka Eso Steel. 20 City released a total of 4 albums and a handful of single-length releases before francis re-established the label as CMR, distributing both labels through the Auckland-based Acroma mail-order website.

  • CMR Email [Label Email]
  • Eso Steel

    aka richard francis – half of small blue torch, a new zealander now living in japan who deals in experimental electronic manipulations.
    picks in bold

    • sandpaper cassette [1996 20 city]
    • split lathe-cut 7″ [1996 w/ three 20 city]
    • ‘sect’/’doverider’ split 7″ [1997 w/ birchville cat motel celebrate psi phenomenon]
    • first intermediate period cassette [1997 20 city]
    • ‘nezmet, daughter of zed-khonsu’/’modes in systems’ 7″ lathe-cut [1997 20 city]
    • gallery 1: achernar lathe-cut 10″ ep [1997 20 city]
    • split cassette [1998 w/ birchville cat motel freedom from]
    • gallery 2: formalhuat / gallery 3: beta ceti lathe-cut double-10″ ep [1998 20 city]
    • galleries 1-3 [1999 compilation 20 city]
    • the agents [1999 20 city]
    • ina cd-r [1999 last visible dog LVD013]
    • galleries 4-6 triple 10″ lathe-cut [2000 w/ doe and birchville cat motel 20 city]
    • ‘venusian attitudes’/’resistance is crucial’ 7″ lathe-cut [2000 20 city]
    • the human weapon cd-r [2000 american tapes]
    • snake processions cd-r [2000 20 city]
    • two world walker cassette [2000 white tapes]
    • drone, drop split cd-r [2001 w/ birchville cat motel denshi zatsuon]
    • technologies of sleep lp [2001 20 city]
    • arcana/memories split 8″ [2001 w/ minoru yonemoto 20 city]
    • two ways 7″ [2001 drone records]
    • serene trajectories live cd-r [2002 w/ birchville cat motel celebrate psi phenomenon]