SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

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Axemen: Carmen on Ice
SHORT CUTS: A round-up of recent New Zealand releases

Facing down an avalanche of releases, requests for coverage, the occasional demand that we be interested in their new album (sometimes with that absurd comment "but don't write about it if you don't like it") and so on, Elsewhere will every now and again do a quick sweep like this.

Comments will be brief.

Various Artists; Wolf Party (Voodoo Rhythm/Southbound): Subtitled "New Zealand Werewolf Sounds From Stink Magnetic", this 17 song collection from Manawatu's Stink Magnetic label delivers some thrilling b-grade coffin-kickin', rawkabilly, shock-horror rock and pure thrash under titles like Swamp Wolf, In a Wolfman's Heart and Beat It With a Rock from the likes of Bad Evil, the Damned Evangelist, Delaney Davidson (with the eerie instrumental Foggy Harbour) and the Wrongdoings. Cheaply recorded and the better for that. Only the endless Litany of Oceans Part I by Full Fucking Moon here seems indulgent (recorded in Germany, hmm). For lovers of the Cramps, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Hasil Adkins etc. Really good bad stuff. Details of their almost-national tour starting this weekend are here.

Axemen; Derry Legend (Luxury/Southbound): The full legend/notoriety of the Axemen may never be known but despite having a flexible and sometimes in-flux line-up they managed to keep touring and recording for three decades. This is an official US reissue of their '89 album (there's a vinyl version) when Bob Brannigan and Lil Steve McCabe were still at the core, with Stu Kowowki and Dragan Stojanovic. Yes, it is ruthlessly lo-fi but the songs are there (the swinging alt-MOR He's Leaving Home) and so is funny "old school rap" (The Tragic Tale of the Rock'n'Roll Legend) and plenty of humour alongside Clean-like janglepop (Human Hot Dogs). Recommended to those who like the ragged end of Flying Nun and Deja Voodoo.

Psychic Maps; 1st (Second) Lo-Fi Record (Powertools): Mainman behind the band-in-name-only Psychic Maps (also P-Mapz) is Simon McLaren, formerly of Love's Ugly Children, Sleepers Union and the Subliminals. There are so many other partners in crime on this collection of pieces recorded over the years from December 201o we leave it over to you (with a magnifying glass) to read them all on the back cover. Needless to say it's a very mixed bag (who knew indie lo-fi dub-influenced ska still had a place?) and feels like a vanity project from people who are mercifully free of vanity. Such gems as there are (and there are across 20 tracks) take a bit of weaseling out, and some are buried by non-production.

David Long; Beyond the Edge (Rattle): And now for something completely different and -- for most people -- rather more listenable than the above. This evocative music for Leanne Pooley's 3D bio-movie of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay's ascent of Everest -- see clip below -- astutely avoids the heroic swells and flourishes someone like Hans Zimmer or John Williams might have imposed, but rather goes for understatement to make its melodic and dramatic points. Here the NZSO are augmented gently by gongs, taonga puoro (by Richard Nunns) and composer Long deploying discreet feedback, bowed banjo and balalaika. So nothing obviously shouts high drama (the opposite in the repeated phrases on Seventeen Days of Marches) or even specifically evokes Nepal (no Nepalese instruments used, just suggestions in the use of gongs). But the result is an album of a dozen independent pieces (like the moving Khumbu Icefall and the impressionistic Fine Day) which have a life of their own outside the film.

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