Graham Reid | | 2 min read
As Elsewhere has regularly done, we here again happily bring to attention the on-going project of Thomas Keitsch in Hamburg who presents music by New Zealand artists on his cassette label Thokei Tapes.
The cassettes are the collector's items but the music is also available on bandcamp where downloads are also available.
We look now at the two most recent albums on Thokei.
Bilders: mindful (expanded)
Bilders is the occasional project of Bill Direen and this album is as the title says, an expanded version of his 2010 album (reviewed here) which is an interesting conceptual album of songs and sounds linked by spoken word passages, Direen reading some Middle English on the gentle Extraordinary Day.
The quirky experimental pieces like Birds and Telephones, Stinkin, the title track and Epitaph on a Tyrant are immediately appealing. But the left-field folk (Till the Rivers Run Dry in two very different versions), cabaret songs (the slippery Quand/Wishbone) and reductive pop-rock in a speak-sing style (Annex, the disconcerting Don't Need You, Sweet Song) are all engaging, largely because of Direen's sense of quiet menace or urgency in the delivery.
With a small support group – Jon Evans on synth, Dave Allen guitars, the late Fred Morvan on beatbox, violinist Thom Thom Geigenschrey and bassist Matt Swanson – the multi-lingual Direen remains one of the most distinctive and idiosyncratic aesthetes (singer-songwriter, poet, author) this country has produced.
And here, in what sounds like improvised and informal recordings in Berlin in 2008, he brings together threads of his many styles into something unique and distinctively Direen in short snippets and songs.
You can hear and buy this album at bandcamp here
The Bleeding AllStars: That Strange Summer
Pine always had a keen pop sensibility – unashamed Beatle references – and when he deploys these he's quite something.
Here, recording between 2018 and 2020, he tosses off a kind of whimsical and cynical jibe at the former US President on Trump Baby ("it's amazing how far you can go") and a very odd piece about a famous US warship and perhaps his father (Nimitz/Uptight Daddy).
There's considerable socio-political comment throughout (the responses to a tweet on Fewer Thoughts) but his understated melodic sensibilities haven't failed him for the Seventies pop of Bust Flush and the gently uplifting Kick Away, the sub-glam stomp of Pop's Going Out With a Bang about Covid panic buying.
There's also a lovely folk-pop cover of Tiny Ruins You've Got the Kind of Nerve I Like.
Not quite the consistent charmer of Uneasy Listening and, as usually happens with political comment, it dates quickly.