This is a 12″ EP from Wellington band Groeni released in the mid 2010s.
It’s a sort of ambient electronic but with complex driving beats, heavily affected vocals, slow moving soft synths.
I hadn’t listened for a couple of years until the other week when I put it on and remembered just how, for a lack of a better term, pleasant it is to listen to. The mix of slow and fast, upbeat and relaxed, complex and simple makes music that both fills up a room like ambient music does but captures your attention.
They were a staple of the live music scene when I was involved and were always really amazing live.
Now 2/3rds of Groeni are behind Good Boy Sandwiches. I’m not sure if they’re making music at all anymore, but they make the best sandwiches in Wellington.
Fave songs: Hedre, but the whole EP works really well together
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
This is a 12″ EP from a band that I think was from Wellington.
Pretty typical 80s post punk. Lots of use of toms. Songs built up from strong bass lines, John Lyndon-esque (PiL era not Sex Pistols era) shouty vocals. There are two really good songs on this EP and a few ones that are not as good, but still fine. Unfortunately the best song (Search) has the worst lyrics.
They weren’t on Flying Nun, which means they have not been romanticised and canonised like a lot of that stuff. Not that everything on Flying Nun has been canonised, having read the book Needles and Plastic last year there were quite a few records I had never heard of despite having a bit of an obsession with flying nun.
I picked this up at Slowboat once having heard one of the tracks (one of the good ones) on a fan-made compilation of 80s post punk from New Zealand. This is the first time I’ve listened to it in a couple of years, and it’s alright. Not essential but interesting to hear what was happening in Wellington in the 80s.