Thursday, February 10, 2005

Organic Sounds from the Swamp

(a Palmerston North compilation, Dodgy Records)

When a friend sends you a CD that his friend has put together, it can lead to a certain awkwardness: she has no doubt spent a little piece of her soul getting it just right, along with all of the blood sweat and tears that goes into the actual production. So, if when it turn up and your reaction is less than enthusiastic, a little muted or maybe even one of downright distaste, it leaves you with the difficult task of saying “mmm, that was a lot of effort, wasn’t it?”.

Luckily, I don’t have that problem with this compilation, so - big ups to Shanna, you've done a great job with this, even though it was nothing like what I was expecting. After all, eight years in Palmy taught me that swamp music was lo fi, rickety drum kits, lots of noise, big hairy men and decidedly indie rock influenced - in other words "Full Nelson". Yes, there is one rock song here, sounding a lot like Look Blue Go Purple, but the predominant flavour was electronica, with dashings of folk and dub. And it was good, some bits very good.

  • Tryk Logic – Asphyxiated Intoxication: a nice wee piece of downbeat, with subtle piano tonings or, in the musician’s own words at “chilled out ambient dubbish beat”.
  • Module – Mangapower: this one picks up the pace a little, has a bit of vocal (in Japanese) – the guy behind Module, Jeremiah, is a man to watch – he helped Rhombus transcend their limitations and has most recently been in the company of Rhian Sheehan.
  • DJ 20/40 – My Style: more of a hiphop track, this one brings in a bit of rap “I fucken reprazent”.
  • Dub Arkestra – Freedom Fist: the name’s a bit of a giveaway – quite a mellow piece of dub from this ten-headed group, with vocals by Liz, who also has a solo track later on.
  • Rafsta – In the Van. Hmm – I really shouldn’t like this one, since there’s a bit of personal history here, but its GREAT! Over an electronic beat, we get nice acoustic guitar and a whimsical homage to freedom and a yellow Datsun C20 “we don’t have any plan, we just rolling in the van, we don’t like making plans…”.
  • Captain Relaxo – Blue Dayze: good old Steve, singing about a 17 year old girl - “If you have one wish/ you probably want to put me on the list/ of all the fools in town”. This is really nice, albeit melancholy, given that he’s just swallowed a bunch of pills.
  • Cygna – Vast Iron Meses: this is what is left of Sleep/Kill, a great group of up to a dozen people, who’d sit in a circle and play these wonderful jazz/goth influenced sounds. Now they are three, still making subtle noises.
  • Haluciagea – Mellow: Tracey on vocal, “Now you know how it feels to be in love” – this is the most “pop” of all the tracks, and not bad – reminds me a little of Nelson band Yellow7.
  • Sorted – Strange Passenger: seeing the track name, I thought immediately of Jordan Reyne’s most recent album, and indeed there is a slight similarity in the sampled vocals in the beginning and the musician intended us to think of the Palmy train station. The underlying music, however, is just too slick and upbeat to have that effect.
  • Tom Firth – Downturn: is this electro-folk? Beats’n’acoustic guitar, with Tom singing – the closest connection is to Gramsci, but a wee way to go!
  • DJ Toibi feat Wizard E and Borcman. Every so often, Palmy turns out a decent hiphop song – this is one of them.
  • DJ Random – That Itch: “This record is made entirely from records”, I’ve heard a few of this sort of thing, where there are samples of vocals commenting on sampling to make music – it never really wakes up.
  • Mechanical Noise Theory – Reconstruction of the Leasure Desk; not how I’d spell it but there you go. This is the only straight drum’n’bass track, with weird electronic sounds – I guess its OK, picks up once the screaming starts!
  • Rogue State – A New Beginning: One of the guys from Hellborne, and a fellow called Rob Spleen, so you just know this will be from the heavy metal tip, with a bit of sampling – how original.
  • Hoopla! – Philosophy (what do you study?) – this is the one rock song, the one that makes me think Look Blue, Go Purple, a song I’d often heard on Radio Control but never known it was made by a mate, Steph, and the lovely Sarah Dingle.
  • Liz – Butterfly: a nice wee folkie.
  • Grayson Gilmour – Key Hole Confessions: he used to be in a really good local outfit called Faker, then went into heavy metal, and is now trying for piano accented folk. The song was over before I got a grip on what it was about.
  • Cheshire Cat – Mushroom … the Stars. Hippy music! Here’s the blurb – “Mind expanding waves of sound that encompasses all above, and so below, undulating in slow synchronicity toward a singularity that lies at the edge of time. Further beyond stand some trees, you can see the river flowing, and on the green banks lies a 50,000 year old tuatara, relaxing with a water pipe.” The reality is some fellow tapping a bongo, some sort of sampled muttering and some atmospheric electronica.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

what didn't you like about the tom firth track? i think it's different in a good way

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haluciagea track: "Now you know how it feels to be ALONE" for the record. More angst less cheese!

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi barry, it is i who put the cd together and i dont have a penis....just thought id let you know. thanks for giving it a listen tho.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

Sorry shanna - I knew that you put this together, in fact I've been meaning to send you a message through James to thank you for your efforts, because I think you've done really well with it. Its great that you put the effort in to make this.

The opening paragraph was just a musing about the problems you might get when you're listening to something a friend has done, not at all about you. :)

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but it's all about me me me :)

1:21 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

How's that Shanna - better?

6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yay! thanks mate

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a couple of niggles... one, it's Sarah Bingle...

two, it's a bit unfair bagging Rogue State for being unoriginal. Fair enough that you don't like the genre, but most of the other genres represented here are also pretty well explored.

great to hear the Sleep/Kill faction is being represented... dunno if I'd call the sound Jazz/Goth though, I'd call it more Trance/Rock with classical elements. God Speed You Black Emperor has always been the obvious comparison. Mabye Goth-ish, but they weren't very jazz when I saw them.

And it sounds like you have a problem with lo fi hairy men. The Full Nelson ruled (mostly)!

3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And a year later the CD is still sharing the love.
Hi from Hamilton. Amazing what you find when hunting out the artists you enjoy.

10:35 PM  

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