non-fiction rock from Aotearoa New Zealand

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The Post-everything-thats-just-been-in-the-recent-past post

Pretty much most corners of the human-inhabited globe have been turned upside down by the virus. Disruption is vast, catastrophic and in countless and unpredictable ways. The mood of the media [depending where your eyeballs land] swing from apocalypse to optimism…somewhere in between something resembling realistic will settle.

Lifted from Beau of the Fifth Column – a fascinating blogger from somewhere in the southern states of the USA. Click the image to go to his Youtube channel. He provides excellent views, opinions and thoughts on the current state of affairs there.

We hope your all hanging in there. Our condolences if these times have held tragedy.

In the early days of lockdown the net was a-buzz with live-to-airs etc. But we weren’t able, our personal lives and jobs meant we continued working day jobs while others figured out what lockdown looks/feels/sounds like. The Assembly went silent as other priorities claimed pole position.

We are fortunate enough to be in a country where those priorities can now be loosened as ongoing health professionals diligently continue to work, adjust, and manage our neck of the woods in an unfolding crisis. We think all those essential workers, everywhere, are fucking champions and we should not stop singing their praises. From health staff, teachers, supermarket workers, cleans and all the other legends that truly do make our world a better place. Your fucking awesome!!

Music stuff

We’ve got a bunch of shows coming up.

1st show out the gate is at Audio Foundation in Auckland on Friday 7 August. On Saturday the 8th we play UFO, also in Ak.

Saturday September 5 we have the chance to play at the fantastic Moon band in Newtown.

We had to cancel a tour to the South Island in late April but that has now been rebooked for October 15, 16 and 17. Fully information shall be provided as we finalize details. Its going to be great to get back out again, will be nice to see whoever we see.

This shows are going to give us an opportunity to present a few new songs, alongside a mostly new set. We’re actively writing at the moment to complete this cluster of tunes that will populate the new album. Sounds gutsy if I may say so myself.

Release info

Although we could not logistically manage a live to air over lockdown, we did manage some small recording projects.

The album Psi-Solation, released by Celebrate Psi Phenomenon, features a solo track by DSLB, and another solo mr sterile track. There’s 119 tracks on this beast, a phenomenal release showcasing experimental, drone, noise and other sonic shapes and forms. It’s delicious.

A solo online-only release by my sterile also sneaked out. The title is The Rejects Usually Respect Your Defects. This is a compilation of twenty years of interpretations of other peoples tunes, as well as some cacophenous collaborations along the way. It’s a pay-what-you-feel option, $0 is totally cool. Times are tough and maybe this may provide a little pleasure.

This is a stopgap till the next solo album which is coming into the homestretch of completion, however still a bit of required of patience and effort is required before the finish line is crossed.

And lastly, a solo mr sterile track appears on the amazing Olympus LP ‘Caucus’. A superb collaborative project based around the Auckland group Olympus, who have gathered together a fine fraternity of odd-bods to contribute sounds to provocative sonic starters.

International

The band were featured in an online interview on the Argentinian based website Artistas sean Unidos. It was written in the post-fire-pre-CoVID times, they were simpler times then.

And finally, we both individually took part in a collaborative sound-response project with some friends from south Korea. We were given a 30 minute soundscape to respond to, we did not listen to each others, we responded how we liked and then we sent the tracks away. We await with anticipation to hear what the final compilation of all tracks sounds like.

South Island tours POSTPONED

Alas dear friends, and we want to keep it that way, we are postponing this trip till another time. To after the shitstorm settles, take care all!.
xx

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My, my, my, my, my Corona Tour

Happy New YEAH!!

Dear people, and if your here then know that you are dear.

Its been a awesome year. Thank you to all the fantastic people we’ve met over the last 12 months, who we’ve played shows with, who have helped us in our projects, or who we have communicated with and perhaps have never met in the flesh. It has all been fantastic.

This year we managed to crack out 42 Assembly shows, several DSLB solo shows, a new music video, a couple of new recordings from Liverpool, a bunch of new songs as we work up to the new album, a new tape from this moniker called SquidBoat, and a carbon offset world tour!

So as the Gregorian Calender ends, and the next one is one the cusp of beginning, we wish you all a hale and hearty best wishes for a progressive, life enhanceing, creative and engaging new year.

Working towards a better future is a GOOD project!

See you all on the other side

The trees are alive

SquidBoat – a new instrumental, solo project from the skirted stable. Reflections on deep south, blackest nights on a broad and expansive coast that one can almost see Antartica from.

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out from Oreti
launch into the vast darkness
the greatest and
deepest southern basin

lights penetrating
darkest of nights
from where even though
its impossible
to see the place
where the horizon meets
the abyss
sailors trawl
beasts from the deep

now
there are no lights on the skyline
the only light is far
from beyond a billion miles

massive factories
from the north
crowded out
the tiniest of vessels
deep dredging
in a most expansive of space

there is no room for the little
even more is consumed
in a process of more
for less

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Burl inside a Snails Curl

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Othering Heights – Video

The audio was recorded while in Liverpool, UK. mr sterile Assembly were invited to participate in a POSTMusic recording session, based at What Studio, inside an old church in Toxteth. The studio run by Stephen Cole of a.P.A.t.T. fame.
The visuals added to this one-take recording are assembly in a cut-up styled video clip, using footage from across the nine countries, film by the band members or people in the audience.
As editing took place it seemed like a visually sympathetic narrative was forming in concert with the text. Contrasting land and cityscapes, from rural to metropolis, and identifying similarities across the globe of the experiences of so many people who exist in the perimeters and boundaries of ‘first-world’ environments. Context and experience is fluid, mobile and dynamic. Luck is not constant.
Enjoy anyway

 

Orange ain’t the new Green

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It’s been reported that this summer in Europe has been the hottest on record since records began. We were there at the start of it and it was stinking hot!

The Arctic and Amazon are both burning, and so is Kalimantan and Sumatra. Fires from the South East Asian region create a gargantuan cloud called the Haze, which has landed planes, closed schools, caused acute respiratory illnesses and granted several cities in the region the title of the Most Polluted on the Planet. We were there just weeks before and missed the haze, though the fires had probably been burning at that time.

We travelled towards Beijing by Bullet train and saw evidence of the massive replanting programme, where countless trees over hundreds of kilometers were feet first in the earth. China is one of two major global landmasses that is becoming more visibly green from space. We walked in streets silent of combustion engines, electric vehicles are everywhere and ordinary. We saw blue skies above Beijing.

We calculated our many journeys, the greatest distances often by plane, and felt accountable for our personally insignificant addition to the global carbon calamity. Its a conversation with many opinions. Many say its pointless, many say it’s the apocalypse. Heres how we decide what to do.

Hyperobjects is a phrase coined by Timothy Morton. Its a concept that helps to consider the role of these world-affecting phenomena “…that are so massively distributed in time and space as to transcend spatiotemporal specificity, such as global warming, styrofoam, and radioactive plutonium”. We’d would suggest that Humans-Traveling-In-Planes-All-At-Once-And-Over-All-Time is a Hyperobject. Small Me is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but add small me to the entity Humans-Moving-in-Planes monster and the contribution of ‘I’ becomes part of a greater force that then becomes significant to the grand scheme of all things.

Recognizing the negative impacts of flight its confounding that we still can’t deny to wanting a future where humanity remains able to travel widely. Travel as a human endeavor has ultimately enriched and benefited the human condition. Travel and exposure to the ‘other’ is mentally nutritious, a great teacher of tolerance, the recognition of shared-similarity such as the universal love of food, music, touch, color, art, adventure, access to things Wild, and the deep sensory satisfaction of being an active participant IN & OF the world. Travel helps to dismantle that toxic notion of ‘other’.

This argument in NO way attempts at all to negate the massive negatives that have unfolded as global travel expanded – the white supremacist advance of colonization, the massacre of countless human and non-human lives, the decimation of Primary Rain Forests, water ways and other diverse habitats for the exploitation, avarice or greed.

As we have done before [and here], we documented and discussed these plans with an organization called Ekos. “Ekos is a non-profit enterprise that develops carbon projects to grow and protect indigenous forests in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. ekos connects carbon offset buyers with these projects by measuring business and individual carbon footprints, supplying certified indigenous forest carbon offsets, and providing zero carbon certification. ekos carbon projects deliver climate resilience, waterways protection, erosion control, biodiversity protection and community economic development.”

We are pleased that our Orange Time tour has been certified as Carbon Friendly with ekos. We compiled the info about our flights (including radiative forcing) and we estimated the emissions relating to taxi and train travel. In total we offset 20.66 tCO2e with certified carbon credits. These ekos offsets grow and protect indigenous forests in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and help to deliver climate resilience, waterways protection, erosion control, biodiversity conservation and community economic development.

This seems like a positive contribution, despite the personally tiny scale.

In no way are we suggesting that planting trees is enough. But equally, its not going to harm anything, and if done in significant number will make some impact to the overall carbon budget. It is but one strategy in the tactics of mitigation. The questions remains for now though on that hot topic of the continuity of contemporary civilizations and life – human AND non-human.


People who make stuff, sing, write or have access to any other platforms available have an ability to step into the flood of conversations that aim to inspire inertia. The recent deluge of abuse and digital shouting at Greta Thunburg is a perfect example. To use honed skill-sets and creativity to distract, redirect, refocus and reorientate conversations and narratives is a particular opportunity worth exploring. And if you have any sort of platform, perhaps an imperative. Say nothing and the right-wing, or left-wing, wackjob rhetoric thrives.

Some say Carbon offsetting is a scam. Maybe some aspects of it are, when its managed from a corporate agenda. But a bigger scam is the promoting the belief that doing nothing counts as something, often suggested from some lofty cynical pseudo-authority. Someone much smarter than us once said “By any means necessary”. A creative platform is simply one aspect in the Any Means available to us in the differing tool kit we have to use.


Our recent tour was called Orange Time. It’s also the name of one of our newer songs. The words riff on the idea that there is wisdom in paying attention to the obvious warning sign that surround us, in many different forms. And also the inherent foolishness of the act of avoidance of attentiveness. We are already practiced at observing a multitude of Orange signs, from road cones, traffic lights to the stop/go signs of construction workers. We just have to continue to keep an eye on that Orange ball.

Orange Time

All inside in the orange bright, can you feel the pressure.
Fair enough to feel the fear, we can call this air depression.
It’s a measure of your trust, present with this strangeness.
Struggle strange in troubled times and live with pending danger.
It’s all around and everywhere, a warning writ in orange light.
On all fronts and on all borders, burning into sight.

Hit the road and here we go, one way into orange time.
High-viz bright in white hi-beam, shine on warning signs.
That nearby near here danger looms. Or somewhere near here just from sight.
You think we should race the red? We gonna jump the line?
Uncertain is the only way. Certain has been compromised.
Somethings breathing on our neck, it’s the future of our lives.

Have you got the post-truth blues. Try post-natural selection.
Everything has signs of use, thanks uneven big H human.
Observe, record those bigger views, beauty scored for Mr Darwin.
Now digging wells, exhaustive fumes next to a rising plastic mountain.
Clingfilm wrapped the Holocene in carbon, and forever isotope.
The past has passed us like a dream. It seems the futures been rewrote.
Once green for go, was safe in green, now Orange warns of on the ropes.
Orange as Anthropocene, beyond the noisy Hollywood tropes.
Orange cones on slips and cliffs, there’s danger waiting if you stray.
Orange with a stop/go stick, the folk who stand and show the way.
Orange vests to float and drift, to ride upon a deepest wave.
Orange lines on bugs to make you sick, a lick of poison you might taste.
Orange hands wrapped round the helm with a captain’s worse than rabid drunk.
Orange flush but hint of flame, an orange sky has panics hush.
Orange rain to strip the skin. Orange ropes control the rush.
Orange lights on running red but we don’t seem to worry much

Have you got the post-truth Blues.
Under clouds that spell ‘Confused’.
Everything has signs of use.
Use-by-dates in question to.
Worldly-hurts a bitter prove.
Hold on tight though getting bruised.
In borrowed light of Orange Time
Hi-vis shines to guide you through.

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Thanks, thanks, thanks!!

 

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We leave Nakano in the rain but elated with the opportunities we’ve encountered over the 12 weeks of touring Orange Time.

It has been an immense privilege and pleasure to encounter all the folk we met and hung out with,
all the folk we didn’t meet but had interactions with on-line when we were trying to sort additional shows;
all the fantastic and diverse sounds we heard and saw being made,
all the places that opened their doors to allow us to sleep;
all those people who returned and reconnected over the years from seeing its previously;
all the meals we shared and the help with finding food we could devour;
all the conversation and stories shared;
and to all those who came or to or showed for the first time, we love that enthusiasm is everywhere!

Towards the Last Stop in the Line

It’s the start of the last week and we have just flown over the coast of Japan for the final shows of this trip. It’s been epic. Are we sick of it,? No. But are with sated with our lot? Yeah, we think so. It’s been incredible.

The week began in Seoul: two shows in the city and one at a festival on the island of Ganghwa.

The first show was a single bill performance, just us at the Hapjeong space of Mudaeruk, a two levelled cafe/exhibition/perfomance space that’s receptive to the more adventurous musicians around Seoul. It’s a small but super enthusiastic audience and feels like playing at party for friends. Kona, the venue proprietor, is very welcoming and offering us food and drink. She also invites us to taste-test her prototype kimchi fried rice. We think it works.


Something that has been really interesting to observe on this trip has been the frequency of connections women in the audience have made with Chrissie after the performances. During a show we witnessed their intense and attentive concentration on what Chrissie was doing and as soon as a show finished Chrissie would end up in big conversations as women asked questions and shared their own stories and aspirations.


Next up is a return to the Strange Fruits Seoul. We have played here before and had a great time and were very happy to return. It’s a four act evening. First up is Wifi Cellphone Kidz, a two-piece playing frantic and joyous pop music with rapid rapping over beats. 2nd is Maluihan. Beautiful melodic and expressive drumming with supports and communicates with the guitarist/singer. The songs are interesting, a brooding rock feel but composed using a local musical dialect that is particular to the singer’s cultural heritage. It’s an enthralling amalgamation. Next up GoryMurgy playing manic and frenetic tunes, high energy and antics and definitely uplifting. We round off the night and were entertained by the best interpretive dancing to our songs. Energy makes energy and one compels the other along. Following the show we go a few shops up the road, then down the stairs to complete the evening consuming kimchi and squash pancakes while downing copious quantities of the local alcohol and chewing over local politics.

 

A day off. Mostly we just crash. We’re both courting head colds and grumbly guts and the lack of sleep is taking its toll. Thankfully the schedule has room for a day like this.

After a large injection of sleep, we pile into our friend Ian-John’s car and make the two-hour trip up the road to the island of Gangwha to play at the Remember Love Camp Festival. The festival is located at a isolated location in the hills. It’s an annual festival, free to attend, promoted only by word-of-mouth and has a reputation for partying all night. It’s wide, all embracing line up of 40 acts of singer/songwriters, electronica, DJs, rock bands , noisy improv and bands playing well known classic Korea psychedelic songs. We play mid-evening and the party goes boom! A high dance party from kids to grand parents. It’s the first time we have ever had anyone breakdancing and twerking in the front row. Joyous!

Our friend Kaori from Tokyo is also playing. Her set is programmed as the last band before the DJ’s start. We spend the evening talking and drinking, watching the other acts and discussing the Tokyo leg of the tour. Kaori is the organiser of the Tokyo leg, produced a short split cd with us and her band Goofy18 will play with us on our last show. The evening rolls on. Staying awake seems less of a conscious choice and eyelids droop. Many are now sleeping in tents, we are in a hall sleeping on the stone floor. At 2 a.m we give in and get some sleep. Kaori is already there asleep. At 4am, we wake to the sound of Kaori’s roaring bass lines from the stage. We peel ourselves off the floor and head back to the field. And there is Kaori, lights, volume, dance moves, massive voice giving it her all prerecorded backing tracks. She rocks the small and engaged audience and we are totally impressed. It’s super exciting to see someone perform with such commitment and focus with so little sleep. It leaves us totally inspired! Such a powerhouse!

Returning to bed around 5 we rise soon after at 8am, and begin the journey back to Seoul to catch our outbound flight to Tokyo. In our heads, the journey will be a short one. The reality is less kind and we arrive at our accommodation just after 10pm.


To mark the beginning of these last three shows of the tour in Tokyo, we sit outside the Nakano backpackers, a cheap beer from the 7 Eleven across the road in our hands. This is the last week. The culmination of 14 months of preparation, planning, introductions, conversations, budgeting, problem-solving transport and connections. The city seems to breathe out with us. The sky flashes and roars, first with lightening then with thunder. There are intermittent-rising sirens of ambulances, or other emergency vehicles nearby. Slowly moisture tickles the skin and turns phone screens into prisms of rainbows. The flashes overhead continue. It’s humid and brooding. It’s quite lovely.

It’s great to return to Tokyo with a sense of familiarity. We reconnect with Kaori in Nakano, and catch a train to the first show at Club Doctor in Ogikubo. Four bands play, and it’s really nice to be in an environment where most of the performers are women. Two of the bands are new to us, the first called Height and the second named Channeling!!.

The final group is NA/DA. We played with them last time. In this cosy venue where the proximity of bands to audience is nearly nonexistent, their intimate performance captures the crowd.

One key feature of shows here is their early starts. It’s not unusual for a concert to begin at 6.30 and be finished by 10.30-11ish. Practical reasons influence timing. The need to catch a train home to some corner of this massive city.

Next day we meet with Kaori who wants to take us to Shinjuku, to the music shop that is carrying the split CD. It one shop in a seven floor building that is only music shops! One floor is avant-garde, another prog rock and another metal. So much music to thumb through! After that we gather our gear and head back to Nakano to Bar Aja for the second gig.

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It’s our second time at Aja, and this is our penultimate show. A tiny venue in which 20 people would be a full house. The stage/music equipment area is greater than the audience floor space. So needless to say its a close, intimate and very friendly show in which all bands have two members only. Really nice as well to once again get to play with 5W1H.

The final day dawns and holds the final show. Today mirrors our last trip to Tokyo in which we play the pro-space of JAM in Nishiefuku. The line up is monster! Finally we get to see Kaori in Goofy 18, this time with a new drummer. Next is the mega awesome Electric Mongoose UFO Factory. Two kit drummers, a percussionist a tap-dancer plus bass, guitar and keys and sounds. A massive and impressive set, fantastic compositions, executed with significant skill.


HAIGAN the monster harsh noise/rock group came third. A new drummer gave the set a more of a rock feel rather than metal sound. Bombastic from the outset it is an unrelenting cascade of wall on wall of noise. 13 minutes into their set, one of the main singers, who at this point had been out in the audience writhing around, suddenly stops and appears distressed. Somehow in the swirl she has dislocated her right shoulder. The show pauses and rescue services swiftly arrive, from the Fire Department, and escort her to hospital.

The Devil and Libido explode onto stage refocusing the show after the previous singers public and painful experience. A duo of bass and drums playing complex hard rock tunes have the task of drawing folk back in. Mission accomplished.

Our turn arrives. Our full stop. It is a big, full sound on this impressive rig. The lights sparkle and all those still present are right there with us, 25 minutes of explosion and then its over! We loved that this was the show to finish on, that these people were here, that we felt among friends. We feel satisfied with our lot.

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Farewells scatter out, some at the venue, and then others in ones and twos as people who travel back with us by train leave at different stations. We are left on our own at Nakano around midnight. Weary, but sated, we walk back to the backpackers with our gear. Our final navigation will be in a few hours first to the airport, then across airspace, and finally around the bays of our neighbourhood to our small home on a hill at the edge of our small city.


Epilogue:

It’s over, and we’re back home in long sleeves and pants sitting by the fire. It sounds grandiose to say the last 12 weeks have been extraordinary, but it would be dishonest to call them anything else. We are left with some small artefacts collected along the way and a lot of photos. But most precious are the endearing memories of shared experiences of conversation, food, fluids and music. We are inspired by the energy and actions of many in their own environments working to make something happen, sometimes out of nothing. Everybody who has helped out and participated in any way, our deepest thanks and appreciation to you.

If you’re ever in Aotearoa New Zealand, hit us up!