Sheep Technique [01/07/2008]

My very last Sheep Technique (kiwi music show on student radio station RDU); with Paul, and with an aborted interview with Cindy (previously known as Sandra) from former Flying Nun single band 25c.

Bible Black – Hell of a Woman
The Renderers – Low to the Ground
The Clean – Point that Thing Somewhere Else
25c – The Witch
Front Lawn – A Man and a Woman
25c – Don’t deceive me
The Good Housewives – Concerto in D Minor
The Stones – See Red
Spacedust – Too Much Action
3Ds – Outer Space
Steffan Van Soest Hit-Machine – Woman By My Side (Mexican Man)
Ticket – Mr. Music
Shaft – The Downhill Racer
Scorched Earth Policy – Sunset on the Loading Zone
Scavengers – Mysterex
Toy Love – Bride of Frankenstein
Reduction Agents – Urban Yard
Blam Blam Blam – There is No Depression in New Zealand
Pop Art Toasters – What Am I Going to Do
Tomorrows Love – 7 and 7 Is
King Loser – 76 Comeback
Straitjacket Fits – Life in One Chord
Palace of Wisdom – Found and Lost
Wreck Small Speakers on Expensive Stereos – All of This
the Bats – Block of Wood
Snapper – Snapper and the Ocean
Bitch – Wildcat
Die! Die! Die! – Sideways Here We Come
The Androidss – Auckland Tonight
Lawrence Arabia – Half the Right Size

Victor Dimisich Band

Stephen Cogle, Alan Meek, Tony O’Grady, Peter Stapleton and (for the later period) Mary Heney – most of whom also formed Scorched Earth Policy with Brian Crook (em>The Renderers, Bible Black, Bathysphere) and eventually made their mark with the legendary Terminals. The Victor Dimisich Band’s recordings (an original Flying Nun EP and the extremely lo-fi live document Mekong Delta Blues – a cassette only Xpressway release) are highly collectable and very hard to find (despite being reissued with bonus tracks in 1997 on the Medication label), and show Cogle and Stapleton just developing their dark and morbid style (after spending time with Bill Direen‘s many bands).

Contemporaries to Christchurch’s Pin Group and the early rattlings of Bill Direen‘s Bilders, in fitting with the “Christchurch sound” at the time they favored something of a denser and darker than their southern Dunedin neighbours, expressed through a bleak vision and Velvet Underground inspired abandon.
Dan Vallor: Taken from Popwatch #9

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Native Waiter 7″ EP [1982 Flying Nun]
  • Victor Dimisich Band 12″ Ep[1983 Flying Nun Fnvd001]
  • The Mekong Delta Blues Cassette [1988 Xpressway Xway08]
  • Native Waiter 7″ EP [Reissue Crawlspace Space005] Rn
  • My Name Is K [Compilation Medication Med002]

See-Also

Xpressway

Xpressway was formed by Bruce Russell in 1985 to release his then-fledgling Christchurch band the Dead C, live archival recordings from This Kind Of Punishment and the debut solo material from Alastair Galbraith. Over the course of the next 23 (mostly cassette-only) releases, Xpressway, Russell and his comrades themselves formed an ever-growing niche-market of dark, brooding releases, mostly in lo-fidelity form, but full of character.

Xpressway was the label that set the careers of Stephen Cogle, Peter Stapleton and Brian Crook (between them being a major part of Victor Dimisich, Scorched Earth Policy, the Terminals and the Renderers), the Jefferies brothers and David Mitchell in motion, quite an achievement. Their brilliant compilations Xpressway Pile-Up and Making Losers Happy were re-released by overseas labels in the early 90s, hastening the influence of these inspiring 23 releases.

Russell ended the label once they had achieved global recognition, as he had always intended Xpressway to be a stepping-stone toward competent distribution, and they had achieved that by the early 1990s with American labels like Siltbreeze, Drunken Fish, and Kranky and European labels Turbulence, Ajax and Raffmond picking up a fair portion of the labels many talented musicians. Russell then launched Corpus Hermeticum – an outlet for even more challanging music (mostly by his own personal pool of musicians, but expanding into even overseas experimental and underground musicians).

Compilation Discography
Picks In Bold

  • Xpressway Pile Up [1988 XWAY5]
  • I Hate Pavel Tishy’s Guts [1989? promo issued in 2 versions XWAY6]
  • Xpressway Pile=up [reissue with extra tracks 1990]
  • Making Losers Happy [1991]
  • Whats That Noise? 7″ album [1992]
  • I Hear The Devil Calling Me 7″ album [distributed by drag city 1993]

Contact Details

Above Ground

Biography

One of Bill Direen‘s many groups from the early 1980’s, with a young Maryrose Crook (of the Renderers) on Bass, Stu Page (The Axemen) on Drums and Bill’s partner Carol on Keyboards.

Members

  • Bill Direen (Vocals/Guitar, 1983)
  • Stu Page (Drums/Vocals, 1983)
  • Carol Direen (Keyboards, 1983)
  • Maryrose Crook (Bass, 1983)

Discography

  • Gone Aiwa [1983 Prototype Publications Pp013]
  • Above Ground [1983 Independently Released]

Links

 

Brian Crook – Bible Black

2002, Arc Life, ARCLIFE019

As half of the writing force behind seminal Christchurch/Dunedin fuzz-country rockers The Renderers (with his wife Mary-Rose), Brian Crook [aka Bible Black] has been making dirty, downtrodden stories since the late 80’s.

In 1997 The Renderers released what is considered their archetypal (and best) album, the soaring ‘Dream of the Sea’, but its been slim-pickings since then with single releases and sporadic performances coming amidst line-up and label changes. This latest release is essentially a Brian Crook solo album, albeit with the occasional guest vocal from Mary-Rose – boiling The Renderers sound down to their most minimalist (and at times exceedingly effective).

The songs are generally dark and brooding. Crook lacks the climactic tendencies in his voice that Mary-Rose exudes so freely. But with songs like ‘Baby Doll’, crook’s voice paints strong character sketches – “You seem so agitated, and there’s liquor down your dress”, creating images of backwoods folk with chemical dependencies and tawdry relationships. He sounds so world-worn and forbidding, that his multi-layered guitar becomes the perfect backdrop to these songs.

Opener ‘Leaves upon the lawn’ sees Crook crooning gently over three guitar-lines and the faint drift of organ, very melancholy stuff. A rattly slide guitar forms the lead – quite a change from The Renderers theatrical sonic attack built upon walls of feedback. Slowly paced and careful, it’s the soundtrack for a dark and smoky room in the most tragic of movies.

Country slide guitar rears its head on ‘What were they thinking’, a campfire song in the Johnny Cash vein. Crook is a brilliant live guitarist, creating unorthodox shards of feedback, whilst still maintaining a southern-fried tone – but here things are brought down a few notches to glorious effect. Like his Dunedin compatriot Dave Mitchell (formerly of the 3D’s and now the man behind the brilliant Ghost Club project) his guitar playing is more about restraint than release. Though it seems calm and melodic, there is something down below ready to erupt at any moment, and it’s that tension that drives the songs.

The only possible problem with the album is that at times it feels like Crook is re-treading familiar territory, though the album is certainly charismatic and gritty in the inimitable crook style. Things make a rapid right turn with ‘hell of a woman’ though- a blast of guitar bursts out unexpectedly. A rising crescendo riff that invigorates the middle section of the album, it’s the kind of anarchistic moment you can generally expect from a Renderers performance.

It’s an inviting return from New Zealand’s own alt-country underground star, now back at home under the ever-popular (and for good reason) Arc Life label, after spending the last couple of albums with Philadelphia-based Siltbreeze records. Lastly, remember to keep an eye out for The Renderers fully-fledged return early next year – it promises to be a stunner.

Bible Black

brian crook’s solo project turned full-band. released a brilliant self-titled album in 2002, painting a picture of run-down rural new zealand, as observed from the bottom of a whiskey bottle, then took it on the road with most of (his main band) the renderers helping out for good measure (after firing half his initial band).
discography
picks in bold

recommended songs
download from mp3.co.nz

  • hell of a womanrn
  • baby dollrn
  • leaves upon the lawnrn

Brian Crook

brian crook has had a long and varied career in the new zealand underground scene. initially as a guitarist in seminal christchurch post-punk outfit scorched earth policy in the early to mid 1980s, then with the max block, and as a guitarist in the 2nd coming of the legendary terminals, along with various other appearance with many of peter stapleton‘s and kim pieters many improvisational outfits, though most know of crook (and his partner maryrose) for the band they formed together in late 1980s christchurch – the renderers.
the renderers found their voice (closest description would be something along the lines of gritty kiwi country with explosive noisy tendencies) in mid 1990s dunedin, and in between albums brian recorded the diverse and somewhat fractured solo debut bathysphere on stapleton/pieters excellent medication label. though the renderers reputation continued to rise outside of their home-country with the release of the critically acclaimed dream of the sea – they were still something of a cult act in new zealand, so crooks’ follow-up debut (released under the new bible black moniker) went unheard as an under-aknowledged jem.
discography
picks in bold

  • bathysphere [medication med003] rn

Maryrose and Brian Crook [April 2004]

It’s been a year since Christchurch last saw The Renderers play live, what have the group been up to meantime?

The band (well, Maryrose and I) has been baby-sitting. After that show we spent 6 months in Invercargill, Maryrose painting and travelling and interacting with students, which will culminate in an exhibition at the Southland Art Gallery under the Southland Art Trust. During that time Brian was doing mixes on Maryrose’s solo album that was recorded just before we left town. We only did 2 days of recording so there were some takes that needed repair, but were too good to leave off. The album is close to finished with just the final vocals to go on. It will probably be billed as Maryrose Crook and the Renderers, since that’s exactly what it is. Currently Maryrose is painting for a follow-up show to her last years Brooke-Gifford exhibition, also she is trying to get a new work finished for the prospect show up in Wellington in May, so art has been the main devourer of time.

(Brian’s side-project) Bible Black released an excellent self-titled release on Arc Life in 2002 – can we expect a follow-up?

He (Brian) is currently finishing another solo album, this one is a more computer based thing called Anti-Clockwise, referring to the lack of danceable rhythms over the whole thing. Its shaping up as the best of the solo recordings so far, and manages to get quite rocky in parts, though not many.

The Renderers last album was 1998’s ocean-themed Dream of the Sea – a sprawling and dark album (which I would consider your finest moment) that came out on American independent label Siltbreeze

We have been back in touch with Tim Adams who ran the Ajax label the mid 90’s albums were released on. He semi shut down Ajax in 1997, which was why we went with Siltbreeze, but he has a new label enigmatically called 3 Beads of Sweat, so we’re looking forward to working with him again. It also means we can get copies of the older titles again.

With the recent and saddening death of the Arc Life label front-man Michael Brassell, how do you see the Dunedin label’s future?

Yes Mikes death was a real shock – Brian had been talking to him just a couple of days before, and had had a lot to do with him in his capacity at Arc Life. Besides the loss of one of the more luminescent performers it has definitely hit the local releases situation hard with the label splintering, it won’t affect us so much as it will the newer bands that don’t have the contacts that the older bands have.

Aside from being a noted musician Maryrose, you mentioned you’ve been busy with artwork. Is there a parallel between your music and painted works? where do you draw inspiration?

As far as painting and music go, i think that the main link is that i tend to write lyrics with visual imagery in them anyway and this made it easier for me when i took up painting because there was already a lot of imagery for me to draw on.

I think that’s why my painting style developed relatively quickly – i was already thinking in those terms anyway. As far as inspiration goes, after completing a group of songs or paintings i try not to think about creating anything at all for a while (sometimes too long in Brian’s opinion!) and just wait to see what will set me off. I hang around the library and read a lot, watch films etc and last year after the William Hodges in Invercargill we traveled round the south for nearly a month taking photos and looking around.

Ultimately I find that after a while things will start to jump out at me, either things I’ve read or images in photos we’ve taken etc, but mixed up in there with images that have set me off are always things relating directly to my life – feelings, emotions etc – in the Renderers we have tended to specialize in turning difficult times into songs but I guess lately that i have also tried to paint my way out of holes.

I do try not to think too hard about what to paint or even what i am painting when i’m doing it because when i don’t have my brain too fully engaged i do much more interesting things and the final painting or song or whatever will often mean a lot more to me once it’s finished if i haven’t planned it to the nth degree. I listen to music obsessively when i’m painting – i did two whole shows on the soundtrack to Deadman and still find it hard to replace that one – I’ve almost left it long enough to play again now! Eraserhead was close and God Speed You Black Emporer almost worked as well but it wasn’t the same.

The Renderers played Christchurch on Friday April 23rd at Creation along with the Terminals and an acoustic performance from Hamish Kilgour (the Clean / Magick Heads etc).