s artists

Small Blue Torch

As I understand it, small blue torch is the duo of [Campbell] Kneale and Eso Steel‘s Richard Francis (though line-up changes in this scene are not uncommon). Both are among the finest of new zealand’s current sound artists. Offering an epic double cd-r compilation as their american debut, Small Blue Torch create lovely drones and soundscapes with occasional bouts of abrasiveness and industrial/mechanical percussive repetitions. Their work is often meditative but still more dynamic than the bulk of either artists’ catalog. SBT offer haunting feedback which floats symphonically between the speakers, and with the exception of one out of place saxophone excursion, the duo create an often deeply pleasing environment. Some of the tracks are mastered to end abruptly, which is a bit disconcerting for close listening, but all in all this is great modern stoner music, best when played kinda softly
Dan Vallor: Muckraker #9

Small Blue Torch started as Campbell Kneale’s first real recording ‘noise’ band, and was quite aggressive in their approach (Kneale describes these sessions as ‘[We would] get together on sunday afternoons, demolish equipment, record live-in-the-living room and release the odd thing’. When Kneale relocated from Dunedin to Eellington, he formed the much calmer and controlled Lugosi

Discography (picks in bold)


Record Labels

20 City

Now defunct label run by Richard Francis – aka Eso Steel. 20 City released a total of 4 albums and a handful of single-length releases before francis re-established the label as CMR, distributing both labels through the Auckland-based Acroma mail-order website.

  • CMR Email [Label Email]
  • Categories
    b artists

    Birchville Cat Motel


    Extremely prolific Wellington experimental sound-artist who also records his given name of Campbell Kneale, and as a founding member of such varied performance outfits as Lugosi, Hataitai Bowling Club, Black Boned Angel etc.

    Kneale has been making music since the mid 90’s, accumulating a vast amount of (usually) limited edition CDr releases and building a name for himself overseas, were he receives a considerably higher profile (though due to the nature of his music – quite abstract, this popularity is limited to an appreciative cult following).

    Though primarily the alias of Kneale, Birchville Cat Motel recordings often featured like-minded improvisational musicians, such as the superb Jewelled Wings on Freedom From. An all acoustic, no overdue stew of drone and clatter driven by just about any household item imaginable (one such moment devolves into an orchestra of wind-tubes), the recording features prominent Wellington artists Kieran Monaghan and Bill Wood (Surface of the Earth).

    In 2002 I had the pleasure of conducting an email interview with Kneale, before I was really too familiar with his work. Kneale was candid and satirical, which lead to a rather entertaining interview, that can be read here.

    Kneale has since gone on to establish quite a name for himself in underground circles, with Wellingtons improvisation scene being touted as something of a second-coming for New Zealand outsider music.


    • Campbell Kneale


    • Birchville Cat Motel & Small Blue Torch – Split ‎(Cass)(1995, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Birchville Cat Motel & Small Blue Torch – Split (1996, Small Blue Recordings)
    • Untitled CDr (1997, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Birchville Cat Motel (1997, Insample / Celebrate Psi Phenomenon, In004)
    • Love, Lies, Bleeding ‎(Cass, C60)(1998, American Tapes, AM059)
    • Birchville Cat Motel / Small Blue Torch – China Slope / L.P ‎(Cass)(1998, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Birchville Cat Motel / rhBand – Childrens Prayer To The Fourteen Good Angels ‎(Lathe, 8″, Cle)(1998, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Tinfoilteeth ‎(Lathe, 8″, Shape, Squ)(1998, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Split Lathe-Cut 7″ / Cassette (W/ Eso Steel 1998, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Siberian Earth Curve (1998, Drunken Fish Records, DFR43
    • Blankangelspace (1999, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Lion of Eight Thousand Generations LP (1999 Betley Welcomes Careful Drivers)
    • A Muslin Veil of Bravery (1999, Spite, SPITE45)
    • Cranes Are Sleeping (2000, Ecstatic Peace!)
    • Vespertine CDr (2000, Last Visible Dog, LVD022)
    • Swarming Tamagotchi Plague CDr (2000, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Shapeshifter (2000, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Crop Circle Empires (2000, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • She Feckless Steed ‎(Cass, C30)(2000, White Tapes, whi25.CS)
    • Birchville Cat Motel / MSBR & Eso Steel – Droop Drone Drops ‎(CDr)(2001, Denshi Zatsuon, DZ-CDR002)
    • Jewelled Wings (2001, Freedom From, FF100)
    • We Count These Prayers LP (2001, Corpus Hermeticum, Hermes037
    • Serene Trajectories Split CDr (w/ Esosteel 2002, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Home CDr (2002, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Mighty Spine Catcher CDr (2002, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Zenkoji CDr (2002, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Birchville Cat Motel vs. The Ecstasy Trio (w/ The Ecstasy Trio 2002, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • September CDr (2002, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • White Gound Elder 2 x CDr (2002, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Creeping Frost Onset CDr (2002, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Summer’s Seething Pulse (2003, Mar/ino Recordings)
    • Assholes of the World Unite and Hunt in Packs CDr (w/ Guilty Connector 2003, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Untitled Split Cd (W/ Bruce Russell 2003, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Copenhagen (2003, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Beautiful Speck Triumph (2004, Last Visible Dog)
    • Nurse (2004, Fencing Flatworm Recordings, ff027)
    • With Maples Ablaze (2004, Scarcelight Recordings, slr21)
    • Chi Vampires (2004, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon, 1008)
    • Birchville Cat Motel With Lee Ranaldo – 30th December 2004 (2005, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon, 1011)
    • Black Void Orange Cat (2005, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Birchville Cat Motel / A.M.* / DEL – Live At Cuba Street Carnival & Huttstock (2005, TWR Tapes)
    • Firepower Fragrant Cloud (2005, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Birchville Cat Motel / Opaque – Untitled (2006, Kovorox Sound, KOVO-019)
    • Bees & Wasps ‎(Cass, Ltd, C30)(2006, Beyond Repair Records, Beyond Repair Records 014)
    • Our Love Will Destroy The World (2006, PseudoArcana, PACD075)
    • Her Anger Is Limitless (2006, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Curved Surface Destroyer ‎(3xCD) (2006, Last Visible Dog, LVD 105/106/107)
    • Birchville Cat Motel & Yellow Swans – Birchville Cat Motel & Yellow Swans ‎(2006, Important Records (2), IMPREC117)
    • Fear Falls Burning & Birchville Cat Motel – Fear Falls Burning & Birchville Cat Motel (2007, Conspiracy Records)
    • Seventh Ruined Hex ‎(2007, Important Records (2), IMPREC169)
    • Bird Sister Blasphemy ‎(2007, Battlecruiser)
    • Birds Call Home Their Dead ‎(2007, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon, 1019)
    • Birchville Cat Motel With Anla Courtis – Three Sparkling Echoes ‎(2007, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon, 1018)
    • Astro Catastrophies ‎(2007, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Four Freckle Constellation (2008, Conspiracy Records (2))
    • Second Curved Surface Destroyer )(2008, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Gunpowder Temple Of Heaven (2008, Pica Disk, PICA004)
    • Came A Great Stallion Whose First Leap Sparked The Celestial Star (2011, Don’t Fuck With Magic, DFWM-009)
    • Glamourpuss (Unknown, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • The Stripey Tape (Unknown, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Birchville Cat Motel & Lugosi – Split (Unknown, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Holy Mother Of God ‎(Cass, EP, C10)(1995, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Birchville Cat Motel / Eso Steel – Split ‎(7″, Cle)(1997, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Grey Wolves Gather / Blue Jewel Drift ‎(Lathe, 7″)(1998, Secret Safari, 07 cones)
    • Fountain And The Love Of Tokyo ‎(Lathe, 7″)(1998, Animal Kingdom)
    • China Slope ‎(Lathe, 12″)(1998, Stabbies And The Rocket Recordings)
    • Crestfallen / Winters Crackling Glory 2 versions(2002, Killer, Killer)
    • Glass Harvest Mason ‎(7″, Num)(2003, Veglia, veglia12)
    • Screamformelongbeach ‎(CDr, Mini)(2003, PseudoArcana, PA025)
    • Birchville Cat Motel & Reynols – Split ‎(12″)(2004, Reverse Recordings, rev-001)
    • Stellar Collapse ‎(CDr, Mini)(2005, Kning Disk, 20)
    • Small Christian Victories ‎(CDr, Mini)(2006, diagnosis… DON’T! reCoRdings, DONT013)
    • The Frog Prince ‎(7″, S/Sided)(2007, Anthem Records)
    • Untitled ‎(Unknown, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Invisible ‎(Unknown, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Long Vanished Spirals ‎(2002, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Chaos Steel Skeletons: Three ‎(2xCDr, Comp, Ltd)(2006, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Chaos Steel Skeletons: Two ‎(2xCDr, Comp, Ltd)(2006, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Chaos Steel Skeletons: One ‎(2xCDr, Comp, Ltd)(2006, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Birchville Cat Motel, Charalambides, Tarentel – Rockumentaries ‎(3xDVDr, Mini, Ltd)(2008, Nothing Out There, n.o.t.#5b, n.o.t.#5c, n.o.t.#5t)
    • Alpine Pacific Triangle ‎(CDr, Ltd)(2014, Don’t Fuck With Magic)
    • A Tiny Circle Of Throbbing Attics ‎(Cass)(Unknown, Root Don Lonie For Cash, #115)
    • Cyclops Super Trike ‎(Cass)(Unknown, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Birchville Cat Motel / Ashtray Navigations – Birchville Cat Motel / Ashtray Navigations ‎(Lathe, 8″, Pic)(Unknown, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)
    • Birchville Cat Motel & 010010 – Untitled ‎(Cass, C60)(Unknown, Celebrate Psi Phenomenon)



    e artists

    Eso Steel

    aka richard francis – half of small blue torch, a new zealander now living in japan who deals in experimental electronic manipulations.
    picks in bold

    • sandpaper cassette [1996 20 city]
    • split lathe-cut 7″ [1996 w/ three 20 city]
    • ‘sect’/’doverider’ split 7″ [1997 w/ birchville cat motel celebrate psi phenomenon]
    • first intermediate period cassette [1997 20 city]
    • ‘nezmet, daughter of zed-khonsu’/’modes in systems’ 7″ lathe-cut [1997 20 city]
    • gallery 1: achernar lathe-cut 10″ ep [1997 20 city]
    • split cassette [1998 w/ birchville cat motel freedom from]
    • gallery 2: formalhuat / gallery 3: beta ceti lathe-cut double-10″ ep [1998 20 city]
    • galleries 1-3 [1999 compilation 20 city]
    • the agents [1999 20 city]
    • ina cd-r [1999 last visible dog LVD013]
    • galleries 4-6 triple 10″ lathe-cut [2000 w/ doe and birchville cat motel 20 city]
    • ‘venusian attitudes’/’resistance is crucial’ 7″ lathe-cut [2000 20 city]
    • the human weapon cd-r [2000 american tapes]
    • snake processions cd-r [2000 20 city]
    • two world walker cassette [2000 white tapes]
    • drone, drop split cd-r [2001 w/ birchville cat motel denshi zatsuon]
    • technologies of sleep lp [2001 20 city]
    • arcana/memories split 8″ [2001 w/ minoru yonemoto 20 city]
    • two ways 7″ [2001 drone records]
    • serene trajectories live cd-r [2002 w/ birchville cat motel celebrate psi phenomenon]