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One-man band on Dunedin’s Yellow Eye Music label.

THE NZ LISTENER : Nick Bollinger

Dunedin based troubadour with a four track writes witty commentaries on society, love, and discount shopping. His guitar, casio and drum machine provide more colour than one might expect.

NZ MUSICIAN : Jennifer Scott

SWAMPY is Dunedin based Grant Ramsay who has recorded this eclectic batch of songs – as many musicians have before – on a four track in his bedroom. Lucky for us this collection of funky, rootsy, poppy songs has come out of the bedroom and onto CD. With 15 tracks, it’s value for money too. The album kicks off with the foot stompingly cool FLY AWAY and then delves into more funky beats with MY FABULOUS CAREER. The vocals sometimes sound as though they are being sung througha megaphone and this quirky lo-fi element is accentuated by including instruments such as the accordion. This sounds a bit like early, low key BECK with a laid back yet funky sound with elements of attention grabbing quirkiness. At other times there is a definite CHRIS KNOX feel to the songs, particularily on MYSTERY OF LOVE. Other songs such as NASTY PIECE OF BUSINESS have a dance feeling, where others such as CROW SONG are decidedly country style. This makes for a diverse sounding album that somehow gels together and is overall very cool. It is delightfully organic and not bogged down with over-production or by taking itself too seriously.

RIP IT UP : Shaun Catt

Has there been a more fitting name for a solo project than Grant Ramsay’s choice of SWAMPY? Dredging through the muddy waters of the South Island’s more sinister bogs and marshes, Ramsay’s stumbled across a pile of old 80’s instruments – casiotone, drum machine, accordion and praising his luck, he’s taken them home, thrown them in the closet with his harmonica and guitars, and recycled for use on a rainy day. Opening with a mid-eastern KLEZMAR feel, Ramsay warms up with FLY AWAY which frolics along like a drunken lamb. He then dives into Southern blues, folk-country-reggae, spaced out experimental wierdness, Hawaiian shuffle, hillbilly techno funk and spacey electro, before finishing with a bit of Egyptian reggae-disco. This of course, could come across as a bit of a shambles. But it doesn’t. It doesn’t becuase the whole thing is held together by a groove with more pulling power than an All Black scrum (yeah I know they�re supposed to push, but haven’t you seen the way they go backwards?) Ramsay’s other great attribute is the way he can change character so quickly – CRUEL SEA on discount shopping, DAVID BYRNE on TRAP IN THE WILDERNESS, GEORGE THOROGOOD on BUS MAN’S HOLIDAY. Quite the regular chameleon. Hey, dont they live in swamps, do they?


The solo recording project of Grant Ramsay, a Southlander to the core, no instant or throwaway pop here more like a flowing well crafted, layered soundscape. Songs written and recorded on a 4 track in bedrooms between Melbourne and Dunedin during the 90’s. Mixed onto digital tape with reverb fx added to get the work on its way to CD format. A real sub-tech D.I.Y. recording project (sub-tech being subsistence the next level down from lo-tech). No expense was spared here in using the most affordable equipment. Final versions of what you hear are pretty much as how they first started out. You’ll hear sinister machine like sounds (wee keyboards, old drum machines) underlying a singer-songwriter providing social commentary backed up by harmonicas, accordion, fx pedals and good old standard guitars. There’s a real rootsy country tinge to the songs, even a tad of Delta menace and what with the cheapo electronica hey its a real melting pot. With a name like SWAMPY you’d think there’s some fascinating story behind the name unfortunately not. Grant wasn’t abandoned as a child in a swamp but he does come from Southland and there used to be a radio announcer called Boggy and some of the sounds on this disc are dank and misty . . . Oh it’s also a brand of 12 volt tractor battery by the way. Cheap is not necessarily nasty although it can be, yes there’s anger in some of these songs to parallel whats going on in this country and where it is heading. SWAMPY is another step for Grant on life’s unpredictable path, he likes writing and playing as it seems like one of the only freedoms left. It’s confusing and hard to see the way ahead, all’s not perfect, just as what is going on around him today, yet somehow it all seems to fit together. The South Will Rise Again!


SWAMPY, aka Grant Ramsay, has sojourned from his more Southern origins to introduce us to a back blocks broth of bubbles with home-grown invention, the flavours within both fermented and fresh. His self described ‘Honkytronic’ style (guitar, harmonica, piano accordion, drum machine and home organ are thrown in the gumbo to varying degrees) is put forth honestly via four track recorder then remixing at Dunedin’s Strawberry Sound Studio, a process which has produced works sounding larger than expected given their relatively lo-fi origins. Fifteen songs for a debut album smacks of a song writer with no shortage of material. However, a dozen would have sufficed as a few tend to blend into a hodge-podge of skewed country riffs. That said, there are plenty of good moments. Working within a framework usually established by drum machine, Ramsay comes on strong with FLY AWAY, CROW SONG, MYSTERY OF LOVE and CELEBRATE. And nestled among the melody are sounds which seep and slither forth from a source well worth mining.


  • Grant Ramsay (Guitar, Harmonica, Piano, Accordion, Drum Machine, Keyboards)



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