Flying Nun 30th Birthday: HDU with Delaney Davidson

Another night, another awesome show at the Christchurch Polytech Students Assoc.

Delaney Davidson
Delaney Davidson

Last nights Flying Nun birthday special saw the return of HDU; with support from Christchurch local Delaney Davidson. Delaney has just come back from Australia, but played a great set of memorable songs in his distinctive countryfied style, mixing things up with a dance contest, and building his sound using well-orchestrated loops and hand percussion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

HDU
HDU

HDU were simply epic. They played a vast set of songs that ran the line from intricate, delicate numbers to full-on blasts of pure energy. Great to see these guys back in Christchurch once more, and the crowd simply lapt it up; getting very enthusiastic as the set went one. Just a simply stunning exhibition of sound. Aces.

For the rest of the photoset click here.

Barnard’s Star [August 2006]

When I remember Barnard’s Star what comes to mind are the places I saw this wonderful Christchurch group perform and how the venues added to the overall experience. I think my initial exposure to the group was at the Venus Cafe, a long since departed coffee shop – one of the first ‘hip’ such joints to hit the scene in the mid 90s. Located on Lichfield street above what was for a period the Liquor Lounge and also a gay bar whose name escapes me; Venus was often filled with University and late High School types, wasting away half a day sipping on a huge hot chocolate, along with a scattered few yuppies apparently ‘slumming it’ – I distinctly remember seeing a press review of the place which noted that half the crowd couldn’t afford to order anything.

Still, the Venus Cafe put on some wonderful shows; from the table-climbing antics of The Black Panthers to the reserved but eclectic sounds of the Dialtones and Barnard’s Star themselves. I can remember bassist Helen Greenfield wrapped in a big woollen coat, plunked on the floor playing bass guitar whilst surrounded by band mates – guitarists Nick Guy and Marcus Winstanley, and original drummer Frazer Talbot. The idea of Barnard’s Star was formed by Nick and Marcus during a music lecture at Canterbury University in 1996. The band became more that just an idea at a party a few months later. Although only two members (guitarists) at their first jam session, the band soon acquired a bass player (Helen) who couldn’t play but informed them that she was joining anyway.

That’s how Barnard’s Star was Started. (The name Barnard’s Star was only supposed to be a working title, too) we soon realised that we needed a drummer and Started looking. That’s where Frazer came in. Frazer Talbot, an enthusiastic young drummer, joined us after we’d auditioned him in a garage out at Nick’s parents’ place in Marshlands. With a drummer on board we started to write new songs and think about playing live.
– Helen Greenfield

Barnard’s Star was an ever-evolving outfit, who made some huge strides over the course of their short life-span. From Nick and Marcus’s original idea in 1996 the group mutated through mellow but rather sonic walls of guitar to more ethereal sounds – with the electronic input of Talbot’s successor Tyrone Thorne allowing the group to become more production-orientated. This diversity is quite present in their recordings as the sparse, minimalist early singles differ quite dramatically from the polished, free-flowing later EP – which was self-recorded, mixed and remixed by the group, eventually surfacing on the Beat Atlas imprint in 1999.

We planned to record an album but that never eventuated it has a very cool working title Sonoluminesence. Not sure what happened with the band; we dissolved very slowly. Tyrone went overseas and is now working in London. Marcus, Nick, and I are still in Christchurch doing our separate things. It’s a shame really. I was listening to the EP recently and thinking (a) how great it is and (b) how it hasn’t dated (which, in my opinion, is the sign of a great record) – even though it is getting on to 7 years since it was recorded.
– Helen Greenfield

The second show I recall (which Helen also noted as one of their best) was supporting Dunedinites HDU and Cloudboy at the Lumiere Theatre – one of the most bizarre and sorely missed features of Christchurch cultural make-up. A compact movie theatre with a trippy lobby area filled with strange memorabilia and oddities (not to mention some great pinball machines and stacks of Spaceman Candy), the Lumiere was known for its bizarre feature events. They put on events like the ‘Incredibly Strange Film Festival’ and shows such as this which left the audience stuck in two minds whether they wanted to sit in the back and watch the bands play whilst ‘The Brave Little Toaster’ was projected behind them, or somehow squeeze up the aisles and attempt to dance somewhere near the front. What a wonderful place – one of my other exposures to the venue was a movie double header of ‘Microcosmos’ and ‘Baraka’ with Christchurch stars The Puffins creating their own live soundtrack to the features.

Making a superb support choice, Barnard’s Star outshone their southern counterparts at this show, incorporating all the articulate guitar-work of HDU with the whimsy and warmth of Cloudboy to really show what Canterbury is capable of (apparently the groups soundcheck was delayed by the HDU boys watching the finale of the rugby – another event in which the Cantab’s trumped their southern counterparts). Marcus Winstanley related that the band were a lot louder than most people anticipated – as he would mix the shows from the stage and had a tendency to push the levels. They would take on a bombastic, sonic nature; in fact Chris (from defunct local popsters Degrees K) related that their Harbor Light EP release alongside Roy Montgomery was something of a religious experience due to their shear volume.

[We played with] The Puffins, Bailter Space, Roy Montgomery, The Verlaines and Bilge Festival, Kate In The Lemon Tree, HDU and Cloudboy, Le Mot Cafe and Sea Worlde [a group who would later evolve a little, move north and change their name to the Nouveau Riche].
– Helen Greenfield

The primary recorded artifact of the band is an involving, pulsing self-titled EP, recorded at The Research Center with help from Mike Richardson (who also helped set up the groups Beat Atlas label) and mastered at Kog. The Research Center was the Former Rotherham District Hospital; a bizarre converted rural hospital manor which also served as the studio for The Puffins unreleased album sessions, and set in a secluded farmlet in North Canterbury.

It’s a top notch recording that connects as a single entity, flowing through 5 glorious, long and eclectic textural tracks, rich with tone and character. Using vocals as just another layer in a dense mix of pulsing synths, shoe-gazer guitar, digitally manipulated sounds and robotic bass. Unfortunately the EP never really had a chance as a radio favorite, with songs like the magnum opus ‘Jupiter Spirals‘ and the My Bloody Valentine reminiscent ‘Arc Infinity‘ clocking in at ten and a half and 8 minutes a piece.

After the group eventually faded away to their own pursuits, a handful of tracks surfaced on a variety of compilations – the last of which ‘(Terabytes, Terawatts) And Terra Incognita‘ is probably the most removed recording in their output, having gone through a great deal of revisions and remixes in its life-time it’s an ebbing electronic creation; drastically different from the material the group produced just a couple years earlier. In fact, Tyrone is currently working on a couple further remixes, though whether they finally see the light of day remains to be seen (and heard).

These days Helen Greenfield and Nick Guy perform on the fringe of Christchurch music circles as part of the Southern Oscillations collective and in solo guises as Mela and Lytteltronics, Helen has also recently joined synth and guitar duo Thomas:Parkes, and Nick is one half of the Torlesse Supergroup alongside legendary guitarist Roy Montgomery. Though Tyrone has moved to London after a spell with the Sydney-based ‘Swingingingtastybag’, Marcus Winstanley has continued to be a feature of the Christchurch music community, currently performing with Mini-Snap, The Dialtones and The Undercurrents, whilst also finding time for production sound work.

So a genuine Christchurch group who made a dramatic impact both as a live outfit and with their outstanding recordings and production work who expanded the limits of what a local band could be. I thoroughly recommend tracking down their EP if you’re interested in the outer limits of guitar, melodic electronics, or just plain great, involving music.

Contact geometric@clear.net.nz for a copy of the EP (whilst still available).

dimmer

Biography

Dynamic, flowing rock with electronic influences and dark musical overtones. basically the one-man project of former Doublehappys / Straightjacket Fits frontman Shayne Carter, Dimmer spent the best part of 5 years living off the expectations that their solitary debut EP Crystalator produced (as well as Carters’ impeccable previous track record).

In 2001, the catalyst of this seclusion was finally released – I Believe You Are A Star – and its a stunner.

Carter followed up in 2004 with You’ve Got To Hear The Music, expanding his sound with an all-star list of contributors (some even in the pop field) and toured the album with Ned Ngatae on guitar, Mike Hall (Pluto/Sola Rosa) on bass, Andy Morton on keys, Willy Scott (King Kapisi / Sola Rosa) on drums, and Anika Moa on backing vocals.

Other guests on the album include, SJD who added production wizardry on ‘case’, Graeme Downes of the Verlaines, who arranged and conducted strings on ‘Only One That Matters’, Nick Roughan and Andy ‘Submariner’ Morton kept things appropriately phat in the beat and production department, while Dimmer tickman and animated video genius, Gary Sullivan, added his own trademark sly touch. Anika Moa appears on a number of tracks bringing a new dimension to Carter’s voice, and teams up on ‘Happening’ with Bic Runga with a spine-tingling effect.

From Festival Mushroom’s promotional blurb

Members

  • Shayne Carter (Vocals/Guitar/Bass, 1995 -)
  • Peter Jefferies (Drums, 1995)
  • Lou Allison (Bass, 1995)
  • Gary Sullivan (Drums, 1999 – 2009)
  • Nick Roughan (Guitar/Bass/Drum Programming, 2001 – 2006?)
  • Andy Morton (Keyboards/Drum Programming, 2001 – 2006?)
  • Ned Ngatae (Guitar, 2003?)
  • Anika Moa (Vocals, 2004)
  • Bic Runga (Vocals, 2004)
  • James Duncan (Guitar/Bass/Keyboards, 2009)
  • Kelly Steven (Bass/Flute/Vocals, 2009)
  • Dino Karlis (Drums/Percussion, 2009)
  • Michael Prain (Drums, 2009)

Discography

  • Crystalator ‎(7″) (1995, Sub Pop/Flying Nun Records, SP326/FN310)
  • Don’t Make Me Buy Out Your Silence Single (1996, Flying Nun Records)
  • Evolution Single (1999, Columbia, 668560)
  • I Believe You Are A Star ‎(2001, Columbia, 5024222000)
  • Getting What You Give Mini-Album (2003, Columbia)
  • You’ve Got To Hear The Music (2004, Festival Mushroom Records)
  • There My Dear (2006, Warner Music)
  • Degrees Of Existence ‎(2009, Warner Music, 5186551402)

Links

 

High Dependency Unit

dunedin sonic 3-piece (tristian dingermans, dino karlins and neil phillips) in the mold of a louder, younger mogwai, born out of metal influence and small-town frustration, their startling sophmoric higher ep [1997] was given the remix treatment sound after release, resulting in the expanded and thoroughly dynamic higher++ album the following year, singalling a new change in focus.
what happened is that the bands sparse, thundering tones were processed and reformed by local producers to a more melodic and soothing end, in particular Soundproof’s remix of ‘lull’ becoming something of a hit, an intense epic of a song that fluctuates with great beauty and shimmering gleam. this trend continued with the diverse follow-up cross-channel multi-tap, which even caught the ear of veteran us producer steve albini, who took the band under his wing for 2001s us debut fireworks.
discography
picks in bold

recommended songs
download from mp3.co.nz

  • lull (soundproof remix)rn
  • the shark and the pilot fishrn

Operation Rolling Thunder

Tight instrumental (drums and guitar) outfit in the High Dependency Unit or Jakob vein based around Dunedin-born brothers Rob and Adam Falcolner. 2 years after the release of their debut EP ‘White Light’ in 2005 the group recorded a 3 day session with Dale Cotton, which eventually surfaced 3 years later as their vinyl/download only full length ‘III’.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • White Light EP [2005 Monkey Killer Records]
  • III [2010 Monkey Killer Records]

See-Also