Christchurch Media Club

Also known as: The Winter Garden

Location: 191 Armagh Street, Central Christchurch

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Current Status: Demolished post-earthquake and replaced by the Margaret Mahy playground.

Active as a live music venue: 1927 – 2011

Bar Manager: Keith

Bookings:

Website:

Capacity: Around 300 in the main bar and 70 in the ballroom.

All-Ages: Occasionally

The Christchurch Media Club was a large building on Armagh Street, next to the notoriously seedy Centennial Pool. Broken up in to several parts – It had a mid-sized hall with hard-wood floors, a large performing stage and bar (used mostly for Media Club patrons, housing pool tables, darts etc), the smaller ‘Winter Garden’ ballroom where most live performances occurred – which was carpeted and decked out in ornate ceiling alcoves, plus a hallway, toilets and a small kitchen.

Though the main bar gave the appearance of an old tavern or sports bar, the venue had a storied history, with the Winter Garden Ballroom a notable part of Christchurch history.

Opened in 1927 as a cabaret and social hall, The Winter Garden was a sparkling venue in the Christchurch social scene. Originally a dance studio, the building was refitted for its opening with a sprung floor in the ballroom and the addition of a supper room and kitchen. The original décor was deep maroon suede, and there was a large mural depicting nymphs in a sylvan (forest) setting.

Christchurch Libraries

Sacred Heart Debutantes at the Winter Garden

This storied history continued through the 1940’s through 1960’s, with debutante balls and formal diners being a regular use of the dapper, ornately decorated ballroom. Remodeled in a ‘most delicate pink’ in the 1960’s, the venue surely reached it’s peak when the Queen dined here in 1964 – Christchurch Libraries noting:

During this time the venue boasted a 12-piece band – including drums, piano, saxophone, and clarinet. The band dressed in blue, Bermuda-style tuxedos.

Christchurch Libraries

However, as interest in ballroom dancing declined in the 1980’s the venue was purchased by the monolithic Lion Breweries, then passed on to the Trade Union Centre, who in turn leased it to the Christchurch Media Club.

Undercurrents in the main bar

By the 1990’s the lush interior was now vary faded and quite grotty, however it became a favorite location for local shows, particularly of the underground or experimental variety.

With thick carpet, a decent PA system, and comfortable couches – it was the easiest of places to put on a show, particularly if you got on with perennially grumpy barman Keith. It was also a great venue when it came to live music photography, as hopefully my own Flickr photo-stream shows.

Sandoz Lab Technicians in the Ballroom

The fringe music collective ‘Borderline Ballroom’ established themselves with shows in the smaller ballroom with regular shows over the course of the mid to late 2000’s. The Media Club was also a good choice for All-Age shows for a period, as the main bar was essentially a separate venue from the ballroom, as a result quite a few A Low Hum double-headers took place either in the ballroom or across both rooms.

The bar closed in 2009, however the Christchurch Music School MAINZ took over, using it as a teaching space and even hosting some All Age shows.

Unfortunately Christchurch lost one of it’s most beloved live venues when the Earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 struck, however the site was incorporated into the wonderful Margaret Mahy Playground – one of the highlights of rebuilt Christchurch.

History

1927: Opened as The Winter Garden as a Cabaret and Social hall.

1960: Remodeled in light pink, ‘Sapphire Room’ added.

1964: Host to the Queen during her formal visit.

1984: Lion breweries buys the venue before on-selling to the Trade Union Centre, who demolishes half of the venue for car parking.

2009: Main bar closes. MAINZ takes over, using the venue for teaching purposes, plus putting on the occasional All-Ages show.

2011: Heavily damaged and eventually demolished post-Earthquake, replaced by the Margaret Mahy Playground.

Contact Details

Links

Sandoz Lab Technicians

Fairly free-improv and underground Dunedin-based group comprised of James Kirk (one time King Loser member, along with the Glen Campbell Experience), Tim Cornelius, Nathan Thompson and occasionally Mark Curragh.

Sandoz Research Laboratories was where Albert Hoffmann accidentally discovered LSD in the ’20s. There’s always been quite a heavy drug influence in the band. You’ve come across it.
– Tim Cornelius on the band names origin, taken from the Sandoz interview with Opprobrium

A fairly constant stream of releases on their own Blunt Instrumentals label, often comprised of off the cuff ramshackle performances (particularly their earlier recordings which date back to late 1993). With Curragh living in Australia, Thompson formed Unspecified with Cornelius, and Curragh and Thompson with Curragh, both as off-shoot additional side-projects.

Thompson keeps himself very busy by also performing in the Flies Inside The Sun off-shoot Sleep.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Lost Early Recordings Cassette [1993 Blunt Instrumentals Bint000]

  • Sandoz Lab Technicians 8″ Lathe-Cut Ep [1994 Blunt Instrumentals Bint001]

  • Big Shiney Ship Lathe-Cut 7″ Ep [1994 Blunt Instrumentals Bint002 / Bint004]

  • Live! And 12b Cassette [1994 Blunt Instrumentals Bint003]

  • Sandoz Lab Technicians Cassette [1995 Blunt Instrumentals Bint008]

  • Daily Light [1995 Blunt Instrumentals Bint009]

  • Sleeping Beneath The Clay Lathe-Cut 7″ Ep [1996 Blunt Instrumentals Bint011]

  • Sandoz Lab Technicians [1996 Siltbreeze Sb-55]

  • The Tale Of The Pixielamb [1997 Lotus Sound]

  • An Ounce Of Birds Blood Lathe-Cut 7″ Ep [1998 Blunt Instrumentals Bint012]

  • Synaptic Acres [Metonymic]

  • The Three Imposters Triple 8″ Lathe-Cut Ep [Crawlspace]

  • Let Me Lose My Mind Gracefully [1998 Corpus Hermeticum Hermes027]

  • Everythings Fifteen [2004 Celebrate Psi Phenomenon 1007]

See-Also

Sleep

Flies Inside The Sun off-shoot featuring Kim Pieters and Peter Stapleton, along with Nathan Thompson (Sandoz Lab Technicians and their various off-shoots) and Bollard (Sferic Experiment).

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Enfolded In Luxury [2000? Metonymic Met006]
  • Ghostwriting [2002? Metonymic Met011]

See-Also

Unspecified

An off-shoot of Sandoz Lab Technicians members Tim Cornelius and Nathan Thompson. Recordings are based around the duo along with various guest members (Susan Ballard, Donald Mcpherson etc), with releases coming out through Sandoz’s own Blunt Instrumentals label.

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Curare Lathe Cut 7″ EP [1995 Blunt Instrumentals Bint005]
  • The Charlotte Vail Lathe Cut 7″ EP [As Unspecified Trio’ Blunt Instrumentals Bint007]

See-Also

The Stumps

The Stumps are the New Zealand superspawn of Antony Milton (Pseudoarcana, The Nether Dawn, Etc), Stephen Clover (Seht), and James Kirk (Sandoz Lab Technicians, Gate etc). With a laundry list of individual accomplishments preceding them, “Lost Weekends” brings high expectations. Compared to such seminal acts as Acid Mothers Temple and Fushitusha, these kiwis have their own twist in their psychedelic cosmic explorations. They are robust and powerful; an exciting and often overwhelming listening experience. It’ll burn out your eardrums and douse the flames in hot wax. But fear not, within these methodic blasts are moments of icy calm. Underneath all this chaos is a relaxed thread, keeping some semblance of order intact.
Foxy Digitalis

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Lost Weekend Cd-R [2006 Foxglove Foxglove121]
  • The Black Wood [2007 Last Visible Dog]
  • Split Fleet Dodge Lp [2007 Palindrone]

See-Also

Black Boned Angel

Biography

Drone-metal group from Birchville Cat Motel‘s Campbell Kneale, recordings feature contributions from Sandoz Lab Technicians‘ James Kirk, Antony Milton and 1/3 Octave Band‘s Jules Desmond.

As is the case with all Kneale groups, incredibly prolific with a number of releases on a variety of underground labels, including Celebrate Psi Phenomenon and Battlecruiser.

Members

  • Campbell Kneale (Guitar/Drums/Tape, 2003 -)
  • Antony Milton (2006?)
  • James Kirk (Guitar, 2006? -)
  • Jules Desmond (Bass, 2007)

Discography

  • Supereclipse (2003, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
  • Eternal Love CDr (2004, Battlecruiser)
  • Heavens Blaze Forth The Death of Princes (2005, Battlecruiser)
  • Ashes 3xCDr (2006, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
  • Eternal Hunger CD Maxi Single  (2006, Battlecruiser)
  • Eternal Love / Eternal Hunger (2007 Compilation, Riot Season)
  • Bliss and Void Inseparable (2006, 20 Buck Spin, SPIN003)
  • Dashed Upon Stones EP (2007, Battlecruiser)
  • Christ Send Light Split Single (w/ Nadja 2008, Battlecruiser)
  • The Endless Coming Into Life (2008, 20 Buck Spin, SPIN023)
  • Verdun (2009, Riot Season)
  • Split Release with Nadja (w/ Nadja 2009, 20 Buck Spin)
  • The Witch Must Be Killed (2010, Conspiracy Records)
  • The End (2013, Handmade Birds, HB053)

Links

Borderline Ballroom June 2008

Campbell Kneale finally comes to Christchurch with his duo Black Boned Angel, alongside Sandoz Lab Technicians, Alex McKinnion and Lee Noyes. Stunning sonic exploration show; metal vibes, massive speakers, monk outfits, tea lights and incense!

Click here for the photoset.

Duncan Bruce

Biography

What makes this album great is the aforementioned brevity of the pieces.
Duncan spans all shapes of the volume curve, sliding through landscapes of barren glacial shifts, torn loudspeaker edits and ye olde drone, and letting the feedback go as it were, all done to a virtually perfect effect for the perfect amount of time.
– Freedom From
Later recordings have featured the likes of Tim Cornelius (Sandoz Lab Technicians), Clayton Noone (The Futurians), Lee Noyes, Matt Middleton (Crude) etc.

Members

  • Duncan Bruce
  • Clayton Noone (Guitar, 2008)
  • Lee Noyes (Reeds, 2008)
  • Tim Cornelius (Saxophone/Electronics/Reeds/Tapes, 2008)

Discography

  • Untitled Artist Series 8″ Lathe-Cut (w/ Wayne Gordon 1999, Crawlspace)
  • Holsun Cassette (2000, Freedom From, FF0107)
  • Economic Target Split-Cassette (W/ Crude, Root Don Lonie For Cash)
  • Still The Man Cassette (W/ Clayton Noone, Extemporanious)
  • Laws Of Association Volumes I & Ii Double-Cassette (Coadm)
  • Some Of That French Avant-Garde Shit Cassette (Dirtlove)
  • New Glass Tapu CDr (2008, lf Records, lf005)

Links

 

Campbell Kneale [December 2002]

First off, describe your music in 10 words or less

Antarcticish.

Please substitute my use of the genre label ‘noise’, i’m not particularly fond of it myself..

Neither. ‘Noise’ is term usually used by Kylie fans to make generalizations about music that threatens them. Or nu-metallers to describe soundtrack-making, punk-prog bands with beards and turntables. neither of the above have any right to use the word.

You have a huge catalog – not just under the ‘Birchville Cat Motel‘ moniker but a number of other side-projects. if somebody was interested in delving into your releases — where should they start, and why?

That’s a very big question. Tsk.
In spite of the two-car-garage sized back-catalog (i forget how many… maybe 50-60?) every Birchville Cat Motel release is different and has its own unique voice due to the fact that Birchville Cat Motel is more about a methodology, or means of making music, rather than creating a ‘sound’ easily identifiable as Birchville Cat Motel.

The early recordings were very loud and caustic, as time has progressed, the aesthetic matured and personalized, and i began to find that i was increasingly drawn to the complexities of quieter textures. i have my personal favorites which i’m sure will prompt heated debate among my peers. On a desert island with only my own records for company I would choose…

‘We count these prayers’ CD (Corpus Hermeticum, NZ) 2001
Probably the best guitar-based record i ever made. The balance between dissonance, consonance, and slow motion, junk-crush is pretty compelling. A subtly illuminating record.

‘Crestfallen’ 7″ (Killer Records, Norway) 2001
An oceanic kinda drifting thing made up from largely acoustic instruments and tweaked kitchen gadgets. My favorite ‘Sunset’ record.

‘Summers seething pulse’ CD (Elsie and Jack, UK) 2003
Actually it’s not due out until the end of December but it’s a real doozy. A very creamy platter of head-sauce. Amplified picture framing wire and electric wallpaper are only some of the first-class doo-dads i invented for this release. Rock’n’rolls very own birdman contest.

New Zealand actually has quite a collection of ‘textural’ musicians. With the success of Alistair Galbraith, The Dead C, Roy Montgomery, Wreck Small Speakers etc, how do you think people in know perceive New Zealand on an international scale?

Well, with all due respect to all those luminaries listed and not to deny the impact they have had on the perception of NZ music overseas… they represent the ‘old farts scene’. Although I am very familiar with their material, i personally don’t feel any real affiliation with these artists with regards to my own work.

These folk were making cutting edge records 15 years ago. the international record-buying public know a shitload more about NZ underground music than your average NZ music journalist. The Dead C are still invisible to the NZ music media in spite of having influenced an entire generation of musicians from Sebadoh to Sonic Youth, let alone little old me. Other than the odd bunch of records i sell at a live show, all of my records go overseas to a large audience of enthusiasts who know all about your neighbor who dubs cassettes of his band off in editions of 20.

Who do you see as your contemporaries?

If by ‘contemporaries’ you mean ‘lunatic noise buddies’, then my contemporaries are many. I mean, if you think of ‘music’ as a small subset of ‘sound’ you get a better idea of the scale of sonic ground ripe for exploration. In October i performed at the lines of flight festival in Dunedin which covered a healthy swag of artists who are prominent within the New Zealand and international community. Bruce Russell, Sandoz Lab Technicians, Peter Wright, Nova Scotia, CM Ensemble, K-Group, Omit, Esosteel… All of whom have many top-notch releases are very visible within their respective non-genres internationally.

Overseas there are communities that run parallel to the New Zealand thing too… Europe, UK, USA, Japan… And it is becoming easier, not to mention increasingly beneficial, for many of us to network with the various organizations involved for distribution of our records and touring. the upcoming European tour is all about creating contacts and forming a live circuit to get more of our music over there.

We get paid well, sell lots of records, and perform to large enthusiastic audiences. whereas, I have pretty much ‘retired’ from playing live in any regular sense here in NZ. I don’t feel compelled to play for 4 people any more.

Do you consider your music to be more influential or recognized overseas than in New Zealand?

on my most recent tour of Japan i visited record shops in Tokyo and a number of other cities that had a whole celebrate psi phenomenon section! i met bands who shyly stated in their very best English that they had been profoundly influenced by my records! it was a truly humbling experience.

I discovered first hand that New Zealand underground music is treated with near-reverence everywhere except New Zealand.

My upcoming tour of Europe i will be stopping by Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, and the UK. I have significant fan-bases in all of these countries. Most of my records go to the USA.

To contrast, in NZ I have only just started to have shows where more than a small handful of people come along. Not that long ago i was billed in a local gig guide as a visiting US guitarist!

A lot of musicians credit krautrock, japanoise and the likes of the Berlin avant garde scene as important influences. Do you feel any particular ‘scene’ has influenced your recordings?

Nope. the last record i paid money for was Motley Crues ‘Shout at the devil’.

I like some japanoise-related stuff like Merzbow, MSBR, and Guilty Connector and I performed with some of them in japan which was quite a thrill. Black-psych like Fushitsusha. I played with some of the Japanese Onkyo dudes here in NZ recently… Toshimaru Nakamura, Sachiko M, Tetuzi Akiyama, and Otomo Yoshihide… They were incredible! i loved them… but i don’t know if they have influenced me. our respective music forms are very personal. time will tell. I don’t think my music can really be internationalized the same way that New Zealand ‘rock’ is.

Birchville Cat Motel is not really influenced by music. I’m more fond of second-hand shops, train stations, old atlases, Antarctica, Siberia, Alaska, Poppy Z Brite books, dodgy heavy metal…

So do you consider your music visually descriptive? or is there some other kind of connection your going for here?

There is some other kind of connection going on. But its a lot less tangible than simply transcribing visual experiences into music. I guess godspeed you black emperor are a prime example of a band that is operates very successfully on this level… undeniable filmic and you almost feel miffed that you can’t see the pictures that should accompany this music.

For me, the experiences i like to work with are those brief fleeting ones, like childhood aromas unleashed from an old cupboard, that infuriating elusiveness of not quite being able to place a certain sensation.

Utterly evocative but impossible to fully apprehend. at these moments you become not just a person in a particular moment, but you connect with something much larger. a personal history, full of things that nobody else could understand, and that you couldn’t really describe in words.

I’ve always sought to find inspiration in my location. currently that location is suburban Lower Hutt. Suburbia has a nasty reputation for being a congregation point for soullessness but i have come to disagree. i have seen brief glimpses of a very deeply ingrained spirituality here, not connected with any obvious religious affiliation, but connected with the big patterns of human existence. work, sleep, travel, children, hospitality, home decorating… what would probably pass as ‘boring’ or ‘insignificant’ to your average e-popping, superficially urbanite, ravebunny, again links people with a much larger pattern of life that has continued unchanged, other than on the surface, for countless generations. i find the mundane beautiful and very grand.

When you played with the touring Japanese, did you play alongside Nakamura’s no-input desk? His performance here in Christchurch with Greg Malcolm was quite spectacular.

Yes. I had been aware of Nakamura’s no-input thing for quite a while and i was pretty excited about the possibility of being able to perform with him. his purity of sound and the purity of intent demonstrated in his work has always struck a chord with me (not a power-chord you understand). i did some recording with Akiyama as well… he’s a fascinating guitarist. very little of what he does sounds like an acoustic guitar.

I understand you like to keep your recordings pretty minimal – what kind of toys do you use to forge and alter your recordings?

I have no personal aversion to overdubs. In fact, most of my music is constructed using layers of overdubbed improvisations. I used to have an old Fostex reel-to-reel 8 track. it was cool but it was becoming expensive tracking down tape and DAT’s to master onto. i switched to computer after I got back from Japan.

Using the computer to record with certainly has opened up new possibilities, but to be honest, i’m not sure i want all those possibilities. sure, its great to be able to record tape-less, mix automatically, master straight to disc, and spit out a CDr at the end of the process, but the ability to ‘alter’ sounds I find hugely distracting. i use the computer as a recorder… that’s all. A bit of EQ, a hint of spatial clarification, but most of those effect knobs make everything sound like wimpy shit. Fine if you want to make electronical but as hard as it may be for some to fathom, i’m not interested in the slightest in electronica.

Do you think the likes of pro-tools and other digital manipulation applications have helped or hindered the course of experimental music?

Um… helped. the digitization of experimental music has seen it become the new punk rock… its strengthened the DIY ethic of self production, self promotion, self dissemination. (the old punk rock works for the factory nowadays)

Do you have any opinions on any of the more commercially leaning bands such as the ‘drone based’ Spacemen 3, Godspeed! Your Black Emperor etc or so-called ‘slow-core’ bands like Bedhead and Low?

Spacemen3 suck. fucking boring English twats. History should confiscate their reputation.

I’m pretty fond of GS!YBE. they’re like everything that Radiohead could have been if they weren’t fucking boring English twats. very cinematic. movie-ish. enigmatic and black.

Bedhead, never heard of them. are they English? Low. zzzzzzz… twats. what about the Melvins?!? aren’t they slow-core?

Promotion time: plug a new release on your label (celebrate psi phenomenon) that you’re not directly involved with.

‘Shutupalreadydamn! A tribute 2 Prince’ Double CD

Everybody who ever heard this says it’s the best compilation they own! 20-something New Zealand and international envelope-pushers getting very loose and covering the little-sexy-purple-muthafucker. It is absolutely stunning what people have done with some extremely non-representative source material. hits! hits! hits! everything from Birchvilles faux-arena rock, to cm ensembles drifting church organ liturgies, to Sunships sex-murder-mass destruction, to Matt Silcocks… um… ‘rap’ to… oh oh, it’s just so damn good all over. The best thing about the compilation is that it is very funny, but never crosses that fine line and becomes a ‘joke’. Tt’s unusually respectful.

Any national tour plans for once you get back from Europe?

Nope.

Would anybody come?

Hahaha. No actually, that’s entirely true. i am hoping to lure some international like-minds to New Zealand with the promise of Marmite, well-paying shows, and mature, respectful New Zealand audiences. If they are silly enough to fall for my slick stories, there could be a tour with Japanese head-crusher MSBR, Norwegian vintage-horror-flick improvisers DEL, and maybe even UK bedroom, laptop-astrologer Simon Wickham smith. We will see.