Every Record I Own: The Renderizors – Vivid Cloud/Lucky Din

Every Record I Own: The Renderizors – Vivid Cloud/Lucky Din

It’s kind of funny that this is the first Renderers album I’m writing about. As it’s not really a Renderers album, but also really speaks to what I love about the Renderers.

The Renderizors were a collaboration between The Renderers (one of my favourite ever NZ bands) and experimental music makers Sandoz Lab Technicians. They released an album in 2007 called Submarine.

Then in 2013 they released this album under the Renderizors names but without the Sandoz Lab Technicians. I’m sure they were given their blessing. It may have been to acknowledge the more experimental nature of this album, or to separate it from their official releases. Neither Renderizors album is mentioned on the band’s wikipedia page.

It was released by Grapefruit Records as part of their ‘Grapefruit Record Club’ which was a record subscription service. With releases vinyl exclusive and limited to 300 copies (mine is number 125). About half their releases are from New Zealand artists.

No MP3s surfaced online of this, and I had to get a copy of it. The price of subscription or even buying it singularly was out of reach with shipping costs, but I managed to get a copy on discogs sent to some friends who were in the US and they brought them back for me.

While this is experimental, I don’t see it as that far away of the other records The Renderers were releasing around this time. The Renderers have always played between sonic experimentation and quite standard song structure, and while this leans experimental, the song is never lost in noise.

The album is built on a layer of miscellaneous noise from electronics, guitars and samples from the street of Beijing. The noise shifts and moves around until a guitar chord rings out, or rhythms build from the noise. It feels like the songs are climbing out of the rubble. The songs very rarely grow or move beyond the initial idea. The instruments are played so sparingly and softly. The vocals are softer than typical. What does shift is the layer of noise underneath, which at this stage is unclear if it comes from the instruments or from a base layer swells up and down. The more instruments fade away and this layer takes centre stage, getting louder, hums evolve into drones, bleeps and squeaks almost create melody, and it happens again, a new song appears and takes shape.

There’s no clear point where the songs begin or end. The tracks are listed 1a, 1b, 1c (Aside from the last track, Chinese Sea which is more typical Renderers)

Most of the samples were recorded in Beijing in 2008 around the time of a massive earthquake, while Brian and Maryrose Crook were there while Maryrose was on an arts residency. The album was started in an art space in their hometown Christchurch, with their band at the time (which is the version of the Renderers I’ve seen live most and have very fond memories of) shortly before the earthquake brought that building down and the album was finished in Yucca Valley in the US where they moved after the quakes.

Earthquakes are felt throughout this album. The samples of city streets that get buried in noise. I’m sure some of the drones are manipulated samples of sirens. The way I described the record earlier wasn’t in direct reference to the earthquakes, but ended up sounding like it anyway. I really like it when themes in music are felt just as much sonically as they are lyrically.

It never comes across as violent. It’s definitely unsettling and messy at times but always feels natural.

I rate this as one of my favourite things the Renderers have ever done. A couple of songs have appeared on youtube, so you’re able to listen to them now. But the album as a whole can’t be found anywhere online. So you’ll have to visit me to listen to it.

I’ll come back to the Renderers many times.

Fave songs: City of Dust and Light, Light, Chinese Seas

Every Record I Own: Scorched Earth Policy – Going Thru’ a Hole in the Back of your Head

Every Record I Own: Scorched Earth Policy – Going Thru’ a Hole in the Back of your Head

This record is a compilation of the two EPs released on Flying Nun. There are a few other cassette live recordings but this is the complete studio recordings.

This band sound like they are on the verge of collapse at any moment. They never quite lock in together. The instruments sound like they’re competing with each other. Violins and pianos float in and out but get drowned out. Guitars disintegrate into squeals. The drums give every beat equal weight, which makes everything a bit unpredictable. The floor toms are used near constantly giving the songs a heartbeat backbone. The bass seems like one of the few constants but also seems to urge the rest of the music faster and more chaotic. You have no idea where this could lead and then everything slows down and the song stops.

The lyrics reference violence, but usually indirectly. talking about flesh and throats and accidents. The vocalists sing like they’re narrators in a horror b movie, at times sounding like they’re passive to the violence, and then at other times sounding like they’re the instigators. Andrew Dawson’s very low and Mary Heney’s higher register feel weirdly interchangeable. When they sing together it’s not in harmony, but like they’re chanting.

Nothing about this band should work as well as it does. It’s anxiety inducing hearing everything hanging on by a thread (or not even hanging on). But it’s too messy to describe as tense. And they are one of my favourite bands of all time.

A couple of years ago both Mary Heney and Peter Stapleton died and both affected me quite a lot. Peter Stapleton as a drummer and lyricist was the constant factor in a lot of my favourite music, and continued doing interesting things all through his life. Mary Heney didn’t release much music after this, but I think her presence was what made Scorched Earth Policy.

I only know small amounts of biographical details of this band, so I’m not speaking to that. But musically this feels unsustainable. I understand why this band had to end after 2 EPs. I’ve listened to this twice in a row while writing this post and it feels like I now need complete silence to deal with having listened.

Most of the members went on to make other music that had similarities with this, but nothing quite comes close to the chaos and darkness of Scorched Earth Policy. I’m from Christchurch, and there’s something about this group of musicians and their music that reflects an essential part of Christchurch which I have to come back to in the future when I return to them.

Fave songs: Too Far Gone, Since the Accident, Turn your Eyes Away. Really everything. Nothing bad on here.