Pete Swanson (USA) with Gate and IRD

At the Physics Room, Friday August 10th 2012

IRD
IRD
The Physics Room has been at the forefront of Christchurch fringe culture since 1996 – providing a project space for installation artists and performers of various different mediums. Currently located at a temporary site on the corner of Sandyford and Colombo Streets, the space is divided into a light, open gallery and a dark, enclosed performance area with this particular event hosted by Auckland-based ‘Innovative Audio Culture’ organization Altmusic.

Christchurch-based multi-instrumentalist Rory Dalley (aka IRD) opened the evening, creating a clattering maelstrom of sound from broken audio equipment and an assortment of percussive objects. Bending and shaping cassette and turntable noises with traditional maori harakeke (i.e. flax) instruments into a fractured cacophony.

Gate
Gate
Legendary Dunedin underground figure Michael Morley was next – performing under his solo alias Gate. Known for significant New Zealand underground acts the Dead C, Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos and others, Morley is a huge figure in underground circles. A captive audience was enveloped by Morley’s guitar and effects orchestrations – creating a harmonic, slow moving drone that evolved at the speed of molasses.

Pete Swanson
Pete Swanson
Portland, Oregon’s group Yellow Swans were known for creating intriguing, improvised experimental noise built upon Pete Swanson and Gabriel Mindel Saloman’s electronics, guitar, drum machines and vocals. After seven years playing around the globe and releasing a huge catalogue of music, including several collaborative albums with brilliant Australian group Gray Daturas – the duo called it quits in 2008. In a solo capacity Swanson’s performance was heavy on the bassy rhythmic pulses, psychedelic and swirling sounds created a frequency overload in my head, rattled my teeth and even prompted a few audiences members to dance.

Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos

Biography

Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos were a Dunedin-based duo consisting of Michael Morley (Guitar/Organ/Vocals – before forming the Dead C, 2 Foot Flame, Angelhead, Tanaka-Nixon Meeting, The Weeds) and Richard Ram (Bass/Guitar/Vocals) – though in an early video recording Morley states the group had formed ‘Up North’ before heading to Dunedin. The duo released a handful of handmade cassettes and had an affiliation with Bob Scott’s Every Secret Thing label, with both album releases and compilation appearances. Their most well known material is the River Falling Love EP which was released on Flying Nun in 1986 before being expanded and re-released by US label Ajax in 1993. Morley formed the Dead C in 1987, effectively bring an end to Wreck Small Speakers.

Featuring performances from other Dunedin musicians: Denise Roughan (Recorder/Vocals – Look Blue Go Purple, The 3Ds, Ghost Club), Ivan Purvis (Guitar – Love In A Gas Oven, Alpaca Brothers), Lesley Paris (Drums – Look Blue Go Purple, The Puddle, Olla), Bruce Blucher (Drums – Cyclops, Trash, Fats Thompson, Brown Velvet Couch, Alpaca Brothers) and Martin Kean (The Chills, Doublehappys, Fats Thompson, Stereolab). The groups recordings are based around strong rhythm tracks – usually plucked bass guitar and drum machine, with shout-sung vocals, fractured guitar riffs and organ squeels, with samples and other sound manipulations added into the mix. Though experimental, Wreck Small Speakers retained a high level of musicality and accessibility.

Both their creative genius and the quality of their songs really shines through on the groups lo-fi cassette recordings. The slinky, funky bass and proto-rap vocals on ‘Over My Skull’, the low-key beauty of River Falling Love highlight ‘All Of This’, and Denise Roughan’s wonderful appearance on their most well-known song ‘Rain’. Small scraps of the bands fairly substantial discography have appeared in the digitally archived era, however if ever there was a Flying Nun associated act that could use an anthology release it would be Wreck Small Speakers – its been almost two decades since Morley’s Dead C band mate Bruce Russell released A Child’s Guide To Wreck Small Speakers on his own Xpressway label.

Members

  • Michael Morley (Guitar/Organ/Vocals, 198?-1987)
  • Richard Ram (Bass/Guitar/Vocals, 198?-1987)
  • Denise Roughan (Recorder/Vocals, 198?)
  • Lesley Paris (Drums, 198?)
  • Ivan Purvis (Guitar, 198?)
  • Bruce Blucher (Drums, 198?)
  • Martin Kean (198?)

Discography

  • My Blue Fairy Godmother [1983 Wrecked Music WRECK14]
  • 3.V.M. EP [1983 Wrecked Music WRECK20]
  • Over My Skull Cassette Single [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 06]
  • Cave Cassette [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 21]
  • Worlds Fall Apart cassette [1984 Every Secret Thing EST 24]
  • A Summer In Taradale Cassette [1985 self-released]
  • River Falling Love ep [1986 Flying Nun FN068]
  • A Child’s Guide To Wreck Small Speakers Cassette [1988 Xpressway XWAY03]
  • River Falling Love Reissue [1993 Ajax AJAX 029]

Links

The Weeds

Biography

[Profile thanks to Tim Davey]

The Weeds were around for about a year in the mid-80’s, formed with the intention of having fun and seeing just how stupid they could be, while also entertaining people. The band provided a great distraction for its members from the more ‘serious’ music they were making in other groups at the time. The name supposedly came from the fact that all the members were quite skinny at the time.

Robert Scott and Michael Morley had been playing together in the Pink Plastic Gods in late 1984. Following the end of the group Scott (Bass, Vocals) And Morley (Guitar, Vocals) got together with Jeff Harford (Vocals) and Chris Healey (Drums) and The Weeds was born. All except Healey had had much experience in other bands; Scott had been in The Clean and was front-man with The Bats, Morley was in Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos and Harford had played with Bored Games. Following the tragic end of Doublehappys in mid-85 Shayne Carter (Guitar , Vocals) And John Collie (Drums) were also added to the line-up. An odd feature of the group was that they had two drummers.

Every gig they played involved some sort of dress-up theme which the whole band would participate in. One night they would be playing draped in foliage and weeds, another would be in glam gear or bad taste clothes. Their most outrageous ‘dress-up’ was playing in their underpants on the town hall stage as support to the Verlaines and the Rip at a 4XO dance. Their only out-of-town gigs were at the Gladstone in Christchurch as support to Look Blue Go Purple and in Auckland at Windsor Castle. The latter gig didn’t go down very well and the band realised that dressing up stupidly and playing music was best done only around people who knew you.

The essence of the weeds was not about serious music or writing meaningful lyrics but about having a good time. A review by Sharon Guytonbeck following a gig at the empire spelt this out:

with a couple of friends helping out The Weeds were a lot of groovy fun. Who needs ‘Live Aid’ when you can have this. Yes, The Weeds confirmed my belief that Dunedin is where it’s all happening musically. We don’t need the rest of the world when we can be at The Empire with The Weeds.

– Critic 6/8/85

Band rehearsals were for the sole purpose of writing new material which gave their on-stage sound a very fresh feel. In mid-85 the band made some recordings at Dockside Studios on Wharf St which emerged as the Flying Nun single ‘Wheatfields’, a very Velvets-influenced piece that buzzed along with the chorus line ‘It’S Been A Hard Day On The Wheatfields …’. further recordings were made later in the year at Chippendale House which to this day remain unreleased.

By late 1985 the members of The Weeds were being pulled away by their other musical projects and the band faded away. Scott continued with The Bats and Carter And Collie went on to form Straitjacket Fits. Morley was later involved in Dead C, Gate and This Kind Of Punishment while Harford became part of My Deviant Daughter.

The Weeds played only around 15 gigs but will almost certainly be remembered by everyone who saw them for their mix of shock, humor and good music.

Members

  • Robert Scott (Bass/Vocals, 198?)
  • Michael Morley (Guitar/Vocals, 198?)
  • Jeff Harford (Vocals, 198?)
  • Chris Healey (Drums, 198?)
  • Shayne Carter (Guitar /Vocals, 198?)
  • John Collie (Drums, 198?)

Discography

Links

This Kind Of Punishment

After Nocturnal Projections went their seperate ways in the early 80s, the two Jefferies brothers formed This Kind Of Punishment, a group that expanded their song-writing capabilities, and the punky style in which Nocturnal Projections had created. This Kind Of Punishment’s albums are quite often eery and detached, with Peter’s voice cutting through the shards of piano and guitar like it was deathly silence. Over the years the brothers accumulated a large list of contributors, with Andrew Frengley, Gordon Rutherford, Michael Harrison, Maxine Fleming, Michael Morley, Alastair Galbraith, Shayne Carter and the burgeoning talents of Grant Fell and Chris Matthews (who would later take the essence of the Matthews penned ‘Sleepwalking’ as the basis for a Headless Chickens track – and make it a hit).

This Kind Of Punishment have had a huge impact on the darker side of New Zealand rock, and their 1st two releases are well worth seeking out. By 1984 TKOP were a four-piece comprised of the two Jefferies brothers, Fell and Matthews – and played live consistently, touring the nation with Jay Clarkson‘s Expendables (from which the tkp live ’85 album is culled).

Soon after, an arts festival, “the nit-picker’s picnic,” dissolved this amalgam and a single 1986 performance with the line-up of the jefferies brothers, michael morley and shayne carter saw the end of the band.
– Dan Vallor: taken from Popwatch #9

Cakekitchen), whilst Fell and Matthews (and one-time TKOP contributor Johnny Pierce) were already establishing Childrens Hour, the fore-runner to the ever-popular Headless Chickens.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • This Kind Of Punishment [1983 Flying Nun Tkp001]
  • A Beard Of Bees [1985 Self-Released Tkp002] Rn
  • 5 By Four Ep [1985 Flying Nun Tkp003]
  • In The Same Room [1987 Flying Nun Tfp004]
  • Tkp Live ’85 [1988 Xpressway X/Way 02]
  • A Beard Of Bees Cassette Reissue [1990 Compiled Reissue Xpressway X/Way 15]
  • This Kind Of Punishment [1993 Reissue Roofbolt]
  • In The Same Room / 5 By Four [1993 Reissue Ajax]

See-Also

2 Foot Flame

Peter Jefferies, Michael Morley and Jean Smith (American singer-songwriter behind Mecca Normal) project, who released a couple of dark, but unfortunately unfocused albums on high profile American indie label Matador in the mid 90s.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • 2 Foot Flame [1995 Matador Ole165-2]
  • Ultra-Drowning [1997 Matador]

See-Also