Unearth - Independent New Zealand Music Stuff

 
INTRODUCTION
 
This is a guide to some of the independent music currently being made and released in New Zealand. There are tons of labels in NZ covering all manner of musical styles. I have no desire to compile a definitive list of them all - this site deals with music that I enjoy.

Hopefully this page will assist people with similar taste to mine to discover some of the most exciting, moving and innovative recordings in the world. Given the links and contacts listed below, my interest in improvisation should be obvious, but the information isn't restricted to music created in this way.
For labels that do not have websites, e-mail and physical addresses are provided where known. If any of the information is incorrect or out of date, please let me know. If you know of labels in a similar vein to those listed which seem like obvious omissions, please get in touch.

As a disclaimer of some sort, I'm involved in three labels which are listed here and also play on some of the releases, so total impartiality is not a claim that I make. I have some more general NZ music links at Teledu Records which is a virtual record store specialising in NZ music.
 
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NZ LABELS
 
20 City
Run by Richard Francis primarily while he was living in Japan. Artists include Eso Steel, The Boa Guild, Doe, Three, MSBR. I think 20 City is now pretty much defunct, but Richard runs CMR so you may be able to get some of the 20City stuff there.
8 Dec
  Wellington label run by Douglas Bagnall and maybe others. Artists included on the 8 Dec Jukebox are Fever Hospital, Douglas Bagnall and Paul Solly. The Halogen site which this is a part of contains film and other NZ art/entertainment. The Random Geographical Survey in particular is well worth a look.
The Animal Kingdom
  Run by Shaun Jury in Auckland. More info on the label soon - just wanted to get contact details up to date.
Apoplexy
  Christchurch label run by Peter Wright, whose artists include Atonal Death, Peter Wright, Witcyst.
Arc Cafe
  Dunedin Cafe who have a couple of compilations and releases by artists such as The Clean, Kitset, Jay Clarkson, Demarnia Lloyd, Mestar, Cloudboy, Suka...
Blunt Instrumentals
  Run by Tim Cornelius and perhaps others from Sandoz Lab Technicians in Dunedin. Everything I have on this label is marvellous - mostly in a low-key vague-hint-of-a-song way. The address was 19 Preston Cres, Dunedin but I have no idea if the label's still going. Bands include SLT and Homunculus.
Celebrate/Psi/Phenomenon
  Run by Campbell Kneale in Wellington. Mostly improvisation/noise taking in guitar and electronic sources. Artists include Birchville Cat Motel, Small Blue Torch, Eso Steel, Lugosi. 4 Whakataki Grove, Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt, New Zealand.
CM Productions
  Nick Hodgson's Christchurch label which has some fine releases by himself, Richard Neave, CM Ensembles of various types. The sounds range from free noise to free jazz. The old CM website is gone and I have no idea if there is a new one or how to contact Nick.
CMR
  Richard Francis' new(-ish) label from Auckland with releases primarily based on laptop manipulated drones from what I gather.
Corpus Hermeticum
  Probably the best known New Zealand independent label, outside New Zealand anyway. Takes up where Xpressway left off, but the musical focus leans more completely towards improvisation than the earthy soul-baring of say Alastair Galbraith, Sandra Bell and Peter Jefferies. Artists include Omit, A Handful of Dust, Pieters/Russell/Stapleton, Sandoz Lab Technicians, the marvellous English band The Shadow Ring (actually I take back the not-being-earthy comment in their case) and the most "difficult" recordings by Flying Saucer Attack and Thurston Moore. This site has a online version of the most recent catalogue, which includes other labels of note such as Next Best Way (run by Alastair Galbraith), Metonymic and Medication (both run by Kim Pieters and Peter Stapleton) Run by Bruce Russell in Lyttelton.
Crawlspace
  Run by Stu and Gonzo Schmidt in Auckland, the "Artist Series" in particular boasts an impressive lineup including Thela, Crude, White Saucer, Children's Television Workshop, Pointsman.
Deep Skin
  Clinton Williams' label from Blenheim which is the outlet for his solo project, Omit. You can write to Deep Skin at 14 Girling Ave, Blenheim, New Zealand.
Extemporaneous Noise
  Whangarei label which is the home to Witcyst, Praecox and much more. The catalogue is rumoured to include around 600 releases. I believe the mail address is Extemporization, 233 Kamo Rd, Whangarei.
Headshy
  Experimental semi-structured sounds which fall through the cracks between rock and improvisation. Artists include Log Store, Negative Eh, Trough, Noctuary (not the US black metal band). Was based in Palmerston North, now in Melbourne.
Hell On
  Wellington label run by Yuri, Helen and Kristin. Heaped servings of stoner pop and drone, with loose and raucous moments. Bands include The Garbage and The Flowers, Entlang, The Drugs. At least two of the three label honchos are now in Australia, but you may still get a response from some of the e-mail addresses above.
High Tension House
  Now defunct Christchurch label run by Hamish Noonan which covers abstract electronic music, jazz, electroacoustic, skronk and interesting packaging gimmicks with artists such as Hiatus, CM Group, Nick Hodgson (ex-Montessouri), Oistraka and Witcyst.
Imperial
  Originally run by Andrew Moon (see RST section below), releasing material by Auckland bands such as RST, Empirical and La Gloria. Imperial has now been taken over by Robert Lundon and releases include his band Pit Viper, as well as stuff by Peter Jefferies, Rosy Parlane (ex-Thela)/RSWL, Fake Purr (Lovely Midget, ex-Queen Meanie Puss) and Scottish social terrorists (that's a description, not a band name), Decar Pinga (Prick Decay).
This link I had doesn't work any more - if anyone has information on a new site please let me know.
Insample
  The mythical Witcyst CD turns out to be reality, followed closely by a 7" from Armpit ... other releases to date include a superb CD from Wellington's Birchville Cat Motel and two Richard Youngs related releases. Sounds tend towards the more noisy ends of improvisation. Run by Simon Baker who you can write to at 22 Larch St, Rotorua.
Is Land
  An Auckland label that I know little about, but it looks like there's a Sone, Sudersuk and Omit connection of some sort so I'll have to investigate further.
kRkRkRk
  A Christchurch label with an industrial focus (whatever that means these days) which has been putting out tapes since 1992 and CD-Rs more recently. Some of the more experimental stuff crosses into the noise and ambient territory. Better known artists include the metal smashing Leonard Nimoy and TMA-1.
Mothertrucker
  Run from PO Box 266, Motueka, NZ - I don't know much about this label except that there is a CD by Drugs vs. Grandchildren. I recall seeing ad's for this label in punk zines years ago, so they must have a bit of stuff out, mostly structured in a loud kinda way with lots of attitude I'd imagine.
Pink Air / Girl Alliance
  Auckland outfit which I believe is run by Stella Corkery (Queen Meanie Puss, Lovely Midget) and Alan Holt (White Saucer).
Pseudoarcana
  Wellington label run by Antony Milton focussing mainly on the free and improvised. Antony also runs the Wire Bridge label which is his imprint for more melodic music.
Root Don Lonie For Cash
  Run by Clayton Noone once from Hamilton, now based in Dunedin, Root Don Lonie have a good range of noisy pop and rock, mostly on tape. Artists include CJA, Teen X Ray, Sugar Jon, Armpit, Pumice, Lugosi, Witcyst and more.
Secret Safari
  Releases so far by Palmerston North improvisors Bongo Bunny, She Camel of God, Willow and Schawami. Structure within the music is generally not by design. Now based in Melbourne.
Sigma Editions
  Rosy Parlane's (Paul Douglas ex-Thela) label run out of Auckland/Sydney/London (hard to keep up) doing such fineries as RP and Minit (ex-Garbage & the Flowers).
Slag Strut
  Dunedin label run by Pat Kraus who apparently releases stuff like Murdering Monsters and The Aesthetics. Haven't heard it first hand, so more info soon(ish).
Spotty Dog Records
  Kinda rock, in one way or another. Includes bands such as The Livids, Meat Market, Rake, Foisemaster, The Ashvins, Dog Tooth Violet. Was based in Palmerston North, now spread across the world but ostensibly in Melbourne.
Stabbies and the Rocket
  Run by Stefan Neville and the website has gone down, so I'm not quite sure what the best way to get hold of Stabbies is at the moment. Artists includes Pumice, Ohm, Armpit, Casagrante Apparatus, Teen X-Ray, The Aesthetics.
Sumac
  Not an NZ label strictly speaking, but all NZ music so far. Based in Melbourne, Sumac is run by recent emigrant Simon Clough. Releases are all on CD-R so far, with artists on the roster including the Palmy outfit Pasica and Aucklander Andrew Jones.
Transient Recordings
  Run by Ben Spiers and Karl Willis, this Tauranga label will soon see releases by the duo Empty Mirror and others. As a reference point, Ben has a side of his soothing guitar sounds on a Celebrate Psi Phenomenon cassette.
Wire Bridge
  Wellington label run by Antony Milton focussing on his more folky lo-fi alter-ego, Swagger Jack.
World Resources
A label originally run from Wellington by Paul Toohey and others. I believe PO Box 1009, Wellington should give you a source to fulfil your requirements for beautiful improvisational drone by artists such as Surface of the Earth, K-Group, and the New Zealand Guitar Orchestra., but maybe not from Paul as he has been shifting between Hawkes Bay, Auckland and the Wairarapa in recent years.
 
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NZ ARTISTS
 
Aut
Information on various art and music releases by Aut (Greg Godwin). Experimental electronics.
CakeKitchen
  Graeme Jefferies' post-TKP project which has been going since the late 1980's.
Crude
  Matt Middleton and his many releases. Link to his website coming whenever I find one.
Dead C
  Everything you ever needed to know about Port Chalmers' finest.
This link appears to not work any more - if anyone has information on a new site please let me know.
Foisemaster
  Junk 'n' Roll from Palmerston North.
Greg Malcolm
  "Greg Malcolm has been working in a specialized area of music for the past 10 years. Although his music is difficult to categorise due to its polystylistic nature, it is perhaps best defined by the loose catch-all phrase - UNPOPULAR."
Christchurch based musician "somewhere in the vague area of Eugene Chadbourne and Negativeland (although nothing like negativeland musically speaking).....or cultural terrorism with a very good guitarist."
Longshoremen
  Ethereal Wellington duo with a release on Headshy.
Marineville
  Wellington rock band situated somewhere near Television and Pere Ubu.
RST
  Taking up where Imperial Phase I left off. Andrew Moon's site for his (usually) solo project RST, whose beautiful drone and chings has hopefully found a larger audience with the recent Ecstatic Peace CD "R136a".
Space Dust
  Duane's Zarakov's account of the history of a Christchurch/Auckland sloppy psych rock band. The rest of his site is also worth exploring but drop crumbs behind you as you go - it's a pot-holed goldmine of oddity. Space Dust's performance makes it worthwhile hunting out the movie Snakeskin, btw.
This Kind of Punishment
  The post-Nocturnal Projections outfit that Graeme and Peter Jefferies formed in the mid 1980's when they moved down South.
Universal Joint
Cornet/guitar/percussion duo from Levin/Wanganui/Palmerston North/Melbourne.
 
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OVERSEAS LABELS RELEASING MUSIC BY NZ ARTISTS
 
Ajax
New albums and reissues from Graeme Jefferies, Peter Jefferies, Roy Montgomery, This Kind of Punishment, Wreck Small Speakers on Expensive Stereos and the Renderers. Tim Adams now appears to be running the 3 Beads of Sweat label and still has lots of Ajax and other stuff available from there.
Betley Welcomes Careful Drivers
  Lots and lots of noise and improvised stuff primarily from the UK and USA, but the ubiquitous Birchville Cat Motel turned out a scorcher for them.
Drunken Fish
  The recent Fit For Kings compilation CD, Roy Montgomery's debut solo album, Birchville Cat Motel's second CD, Children's Television Workshop LP, Sferic Experiment stuff, Harmony of the Spheres box set (featuring Roy Montgomery), Hash Jar Tempo (again featuring Roy Montgomery - a pattern is emerging) and the Peter Jefferies/Jono Lonie reissue.
This link appears to not work any more - if anyone has information on a new site please let me know.
Freedom From...
  This Minneapolis label aimed to release 100 tapes in editions of 30 on the same day in 1998. The deadline wasn't quite met, but there's a lot of stuff here.
Kranky
  One of the finest example of a label with a consistent sound. Amongst the droning swirling space-rock (TM) come albums from NZ artists such as Dadamah, Dissolve, Flies Inside the Sun and Roy Montgomery.
Last Visible Dog
  Chris Moon and others' CD-R label from Nebraska who have just got out an Ohm CD and a double Small Blue Torch CD amongst a stack of other things. Eso Steel is upcoming apparently.
Majora
  Seattle label. Dadamah, Gate.
Siltbreeze
  Dead C, Pin Group. The old website has gone - sing out if you have information on a new address.
Touch
  UK label who have released Rosy Parlane (ex-Thela) among many others including a personal favourite of mine, Oren Ambarchi.
VHF
  US label with releases by Roy Montgomery and Sandra Bell amongst all their other fine stuff like Rake (US), Total, Doldrums, FSA...
 
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OVERSEAS DISTRIBUTORS SELLING NZ MUSIC
 
Apartment
Great Norwegian label who distribute an amazing amount of other great labels. The double album + 7" compilation "We'll Sail Out Far..." has enough great tracks on it (including a few NZ artists) to secure their reputation forever.
Eclipse
Ed Hardy in Bullhead, Arizona has an astounding selection of hard to get music.
 
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MAILING LISTS - INDEPENDENT NZ MUSIC
 
Corpus Hermeticum
A low traffic information (rather than discussion) based list providing details on the latest HCorp HQ goings on.
Dead C
  This is a list for the New Zealand "noise" band, The Dead C., and their various side projects, like Gate and A Handful of Dust. Isn't the internet a wonderful thing... a mailing list devoted to one of NZ's most enduringly obscure (in NZ anyway) outfits.
Lathe
  A discussion of free/noise/improv/drone in a somewhat limited scope.
NZ-Pop
  An often silly, mostly mainstream forum in which NZ music and lots of crap is discussed. It took me 2 years to resubscribe when I accidentally got kicked off once - I keep thinking of unsubscribing now that I'm back on it, but the odd bit of information and Roi Colbert's posts are enough to make it worthwhile.
RoutesForWarAndTravel
  Discussion and "updates on the migratory patterns of the pseudoarcana, jewelled antler, haamumaa, root don lonie for cash, wire bridge, pink skulls, lal lal lal, celebrate psi-phenomenon, last visible dog, 267 lattajjaa & apoplexy labels & our friends & extended family. Postings will focus on the unlit forests of tones around the world, troop movements & the weather."
Xpressway
Discussion of the Xpressway label including artists such as The Dead C., Alastair Galbraith, Terminals, Peter Jefferies, etc.
 
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OTHER NZ MUSIC RESOURCES
 
bands.co.nz
  I think this used to be NZunsigned, but it's heading more towards mainstream independent bands - perhaps still worthwhile for those generally interested in non-major label NZ stuff.
Broken Face zine
  Swedish zine by Mats Gutsafsson that features lots of good NZ music.
Club Bizarre
Mark Wallbank's site on the "dark-end / avant-garde music" of New Zealand, including some interesting historical and contemporary band features.
Dead Weight
Internet zine organised by Victor Billot (Alpha Plan, ex-Swarm, ex-Age of Dog) which has the dual focus of underground NZ music and left wing politics.
From The Swamp
  A guide to all things musical from Palmerston North (where I lived).
King Records Worldwide
  Lots of NZ artists release music with the kind help of King Records Worldwide who cut records individually on acetate using a lathe. You can contact Peter King at:
35 Comyns St, Mount Somers, RD 1, Ashburton, New Zealand
(ph/fax +64-3-3039755)
King Worldwide Lathe Discography
  Dan Vallor's impressive research on all things to do with decent NZ music. An impressive effort under any circumstances, but particularly difficult to find out all this stuff from the US.
Opprobrium
  New Zealand magazine covering all things obscure and obtuse. Guaranteed to inform and alienate.
Paul Collett's Music Resource
  A history of New Zealand music with lots of good links and superb sites on the least mainstream New Zealand and Japanese music - also the home of the Corpus Hermeticum website and mailing list.
Piero Scaruffi's Online Cultural Archive
  This site covers a huge amount of views, overviews and reviews on all sorts of stuff. You can spend days following band and genre links here (probably months if you read Italian), but of particular interest to this site are the NZ 1990's section and NZ 1980's section.
 
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This site was last updated on 21 July 2004