non-fiction rock from Aotearoa New Zealand

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Isolation couldn’t arrive fast enough

This release is a commission piece in response to CoVID-19, with provocation and support provided by The Pyramid Club, Pōneke Wellington. This track is three pieces collated into a single over-arching idea with accompanying essay to give thought to sound. 

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“With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter.” 

H G Wells 

An invitation to participate in a reflection on COVID brings hesitation, a sense of wanting to avoid the opportunity, a feeling of being overwhelmed at the commitment. But that is when the energy’s low, which has been a lot of the time over the last few months. Of course the other me, the FOMO me, the me that knows it’ll be fun in the long run, says I know I’ll regret it if I don’t. 

Everyone’s got a Lockdown story. We are all unified under Corona. Certainly in the early days. 

Out of the apocalypse that was the Australian summer, stories of a gathering unknown infection in the Chinese city of Wuhan made their way through the clouds of smoke. It was an compelling story as we had briefly visited this city six months earlier to play a show in a club called Wuhan Prison. Months later we would find out that we left the city about twenty days before the first case of the novel coronavirus would present and rewrite the way we all interact with the world. 

Horror stories of first Italy and then Spain soon gained global attention. This virus was no longer perceived to be limited or contained. Here at home we were organizing a small tour of the South Island and planning local shows. Thinking about it now, it reads like the opening scene in H.G. Wells novel War of the Worlds: Us, innocently going about our daily endeavours oblivious and ignorant to the gathering storm. 

In my working life though, the corona virus was becoming a frequent conversation. I work as a nurse as part of a health team in a Youth Service. I am lucky to have access to clinicians who are literate in the wider contexts of health and illness, who have worked in crisis zones before. Yet here we all were in the face of a cascading unknown. Stories ramped up daily of hundreds, if not thousands, dead. How were we to cope? Who knew the real magnitude of what we were about to be confronted with? 

After work, back home, I would continue to organise shows as if what was happening was of little consequence. 

Then it arrived. The local numbers exponentially increased. The anxiety rocketed. Ardern announced a 48 hours preparation period before a full Level 4 lockdown. It was a Sunday and I went into work. We had an afternoon to plan how to reconfigure a health centre to be pandemic-ready by the morning. Over the next few days information and official recommendations changed frequently, sometimes several times in a day. It was a head-fuck trying to keep up, but we consistently had to respond and revise. 

After work, back home, the evenings turned into a tour cancelling exercise. 

Suddenly the streets were empty. Bubbles formed and compassion was tangible. Biking to work was brilliant. There was something awesome in the awfulness. 

My workplace was deemed an Essential Service, so remained active and open. The contagion was spreading. The international death toll increased, local infection rates escalated quickly and then death arrived. We needed to be prepared and confident in PPE despite any anxiety we held personally. We checked in with the daily briefing, read anything that might educate us on what might happen next, learned and dumped and re-learned as old advice made way to new. It demanded mental agility and dexterity while maintaining robust and safe clinical practice. 

Returning home to the bubble it turned into evenings of food and alcohol, of establishing new routines. New habits like believing you are contaminated until an immediate shower upon returning, being careful in the discarding of any potentially-infectious work clothes upon entering the house. Touch no one till disinfected! 

Online, creativity seemed to flourish. There was an energy to the new environment, people recognizing the need to stay connected and use online performance as a valid expression. Nearly every other day invites were received to take part in online concerts, discuss things in interviews or to collaborate on recording projects. 

Initially it seemed possible to entertain these requests. But that was before the exhaustion started to settle. Decision fatigue. Navigating anxieties, localities, the practical aspects of managing an unfolding crisis with limited information at work became the only creative act. There was no time, head-space or the words to find some philosophical meaning to project. 

The weeks ticked by and the collective mitigating efforts delivered tangible progress. The curve was flattening, cases were decreasing, and clinical routines became familiar. As we approached Level 2, I could see an opportunity to take a break, a small window of time, a settled, momentary, period in which to escape to. Through a serendipitous connection a small shed in the Waiohine Valley became available. Pre-empting the possibility of slowly unwinding with some recreational recording, I packed a notebook, a bottle of whiskey, and a small amount of recording equipment in the faint hope that something sonic might be captured while away. 

As the country anticipated moving from Level 2 to 1, I felt urgent for the isolation. It could not arrive fast enough. I drove to the foot of the hills and slept. The quiet developed into an unexpectedly fruitful time. I spoke to no one, spent days in monastic silence in a routine of coffee, reading and then recording till dusk. Part-way through I needed supplies so took a trip to Carterton, There I heard the dramatic news of an upending situation in the US after the murder of George Floyd. The world interacts in explosive ways. 

Now, back at work the new ‘ordinary’ delivers its own stressors. There is a comfort I’ve heard expressed many times about the security the first Lockdown delivered. As things reopen the uncertainty returns. The confidence of a science-based approach has devolved to conversations of conspiracy. However it pans out, whether we like it or not, we are still in it together. The best and the worst, inescapable. 

I noticed in myself that the invite to participate in this project generated a feeling of resistance. It was still one task too many in the daily torrent of demands. The idea to generate a ‘new’ piece of work, from scratch, seemed more than could be managed. But the idea to compile a few pieces, formed without purpose, into a single entity recorded in refuge grew as a tangible and graspable possibility. The other me was right, I would have regretted declining. And for this opportunity I give thanks to Pyramid Club. 

The audio recorded for this project are three of eight pieces from this period. Stylistically different from each other, but each born 24 hours apart. The first and third tracks are spontaneous compositions. The kereru are locals, the train is the Featherston Line, and the wasps were lifted from Chrissie Butler’s contribution to the Psi-Isolation album. Mixed and mastered by C Butler and mr sterile. 

PMTV: POSTMUSIC Session

Well this is an absolutely surprising delight to wake up to this!!

We we’e introduced to the lovely Stephen Cole when we we’re on tour in 2019. He runs a music project called POSTmusic out of What Studio and it was arranged for us to take part when we got to Liverpool. The studio is based upstairs in a large old church, but felt like a sweet subversive space for weirdos music makers.

We met early afternoon, set up, got the costumes on on the front steps, between the legs of the edifice, and bang bang, spat the two tunes out in quick succession. One take, all at once, and this is the first take.

We have recently been remixing the audio with Stephen, via the wonders of the WWW. Which is exciting practice. In a couple of weeks we will start laying down the first tracks for the new album at the infamous local Scumbag College. Then, when all tracks are complete, we shall send to What Studio to pick up the mixing and mastering of the final collection.

Hurrē – Single release

Announcing the brand new release of the new single Hūrrē alongside the new recording of the older track Orhering Heights.

Hūrrē: a word purportedly from the fens, easy of Cambridgeshire. A word for the cloud-like visible breath one breathes out on a cold day.

These tracks were recorded in Liverpool June 2019 when we visited northern England as part of three last tour. An afternoon was arranged at What Studio, run by Stephen Cole, as an opportunity for us to take part in his POSTmusic series. All equipment was set up, ther recorded button engaged and then once through and all parts at once.

Move to this year and the world has changed exponentially. We were invited to contribute something to an project called Flat Earthers – unpleasant truths/ comfortable lies . This song seemed to fit the brief of an exploration of these ‘post truth’ times.

A new video will be accompanying the song very soon .

lyrics

Seems like every talking head, spinning clever, sing aloud
Every claims to speak, tongue in cheek, for the ‘silent crowd’
Every point explored, cue applause and minds and hearts
Everything is black and white, twitter into bite-sized parts
Everything urgent, talk it up or talk it down
Everything matters, despite the fact that facts are known
Everything’s balance, depends in fact on who decides
Compassionate gaslight, say it’s nothing smile wide

Every informed mouthpiece, filled your ears up with their junk
Every trusted mug, comforts drug, your brains drunk
Every reused excuse, adds authority, gospel proof
Fuckwit behaviour, be subjective with the truth
Seems like every expert here, with loud idea’s got it wrong
Every wise refrain on display and now it’s gone
Every balanced point, mr smartarse hit’s the mark
Every scrap of ‘good advice’, there to prop the oligarch.

It’s that thing your breath does when it’s cold.
Born from your inner warmth, when the Mercury’s low.
Coming from your mouth, honest without sound
Here’s something I can trust, you’re tiny rising cloud.

You’ve got a lot to say
For someone with not a lot to say
But never let the facts
Get in the way.
You say that you know
We doubt what’s below
Your hollow show

Return of the Orange

Othering Heights 2020 redux

UPDATED VIDEO:

The B-side to the A-side of a No-sided single Hūrrē.

Othering Heights- recording in What Studio by the lovely Stephen Cole, Liverpool June 2019 at a time that now seems a world away.

Remixed and mastered by Stephen Cole Spetember 2020, and edited into the vid made from footage from last years tour.

Enjoy the new sounds

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CANCELLED::: Sept 5 will arrive

Alas, the extension of Level 2 has meant that this show has had to be postponed to a yet unknown time….
The loss of a show ain’t a big thing compared to the losses of others to CoVID. We have 0% common ground for any ridiculous idea that it is a scam.

We were talking with someone dear and close a few days ago who had just returned home from hospital after experiencing complications to the illness. They were still lost for breath. Loss of breath from exertion/leaping around/acting up will return, but we want all our nearest and dearest with us.

So take care, look after yourselves and your known and unknown others, and see you soon

Solidarity!

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The return of the post-lockdown night life

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August 7, Friday Auckland : Venue – Audio Foundation, with TOOMS
August 8, Saturday Auckland : Venue – UFO, with The Fuzzies and Quaint

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