Volcanic Tongue Catalogue

Alastair Galbraith

Mie Music MIE-017


Beautifully realised reissue of one of New Zealand underground singer/songwriter/soundist Alastair Galbraith’s hands-down masterpieces, 2000’s Cry in an edition of 500 copies: recorded in a shed at Taieri Mouth between 1998 and 2000 and then released by Emperor Jones on CD in 2000, Cry is an incredibly intimate record, an up-close rendering of Galbraith’s amazing, frail song stylings all put together with supremely imaginative use of base materials, simple backwards tape drones, melancholy organ drones, singing violin... Galbraith’s vocals are raw and unarmoured, singing/whispering through a kind of supremely personal take on post-VU traditions. The instrumentals have a distant/drizzily hypnotic quality, with cheap circling organ tones that somehow transcend their genesis and blossom into dizzying miniature carousels. The songs are simply heartbreaking, lucid acid folk stylings but with that distant edge-of-the-world appeal. Galbraith can saw through a violin with alla the power-droning style of John Cale and some of the instrumentals here reposition ’66 era Velvets downwind of Xpressway, with all sorts of foggy 4-track detail adding rainbow spectra to the hazy, sad atmospherics. But it’s the songs I most come back to, with that voice, that up-close intimate style, enough to soften the hardest of hearts. Easily the equal of totemic sides by Syd Barrett, Kevin Ayres et al but with an avant/underground aesthetic that situates it downwind of no one. A magical record, first time on vinyl, one to treasure. Very highly recommended. 

Peter Jefferies
The Last Great Challenge In A Dull World

De Stijl IND123


Necessary CD edition of this all-time classic New Zealand underground side, originally released in 1990 on Bruce Russell’s legendary Xpressway label: Jefferies was a member of This Kind Of Punishment and this is one of the all-time great weirdo singer-songwriter albums, with a backing band that includes all three members of The Dead C – Bruce Russell, Michael Morley and Robbie Yeats – as well as Alastair Galbraith, Kathy Bull, Robbie Muir , David Mitchell and Nigel Taylor. Jefferies channels the revenant forms of Syd Barrett and Kevin Ayers, all filtered through that amazing subterranean/basement distance that defines the best of the Xpressway sides. His song-writing is just heartrendingly beautiful, power crying over lilting repeat-piano minimalism and disembodied backing vocals, singing unaccompanied acapella tracks that have all of the alien power of Jandek and playing amazing damaged downer guitar dirges that marry the brokedown form of The Dead C to classic psychedelic songforms. Truly, an all-time desert island discs and one of the most magical moments in the Xpressway back catalogue finally available again on vinyl. Comes with a download code. No one does the sound of lonesome like Jefferies. Can’t recommend this masterpiece enough!

Peter Jefferies

Superior Viaduct SV-055


Necessary reissue of one of the all-time New Zealand underground classics, this one belongs on the shelf of every serious VT head: released in 1994, perhaps the apex of the original avant underground, this was Jefferies’ follow-up to his great 1990 Xpressway recording, Last Great Challenge In A Dull World. Jefferies was part of the legendary This Kind Of Punishment and his song-writing style combines massively experimental basement psych/prog jams ala Vertical Slit/Jim Shepard with the kind of beautiful, avant garde piano ballad songwriting of a John Cale circa Fear/Paris 1919 et al w/a real sense of drama and mystery that is rare in the world of singer/songwriters. The supporting cast is absolutely stellar too, with Bruce Russell of The Dead C contributing electric guitar alongside Shayne Carter of Straitjacket Fits and Robbie Muir of Plagal Grind and the combination of beautiful, heartbroken piano reveries, ultra-crude drone rock jams, blurry almost Madcap Laughs-style dislocation and experimental tape works makes this a record that is heady with the possibilities of a certain time/space/place. Impossibly beautiful, raw, bled straight to tape, an inspired cover of Barbara Manning’s brilliant “Scissors”... they don’t make em like this anymore. This beautifully presented deluxe reissue comes with a gatefold sleeve featuring great snaps of Peter as well as an entire side of bonus tracks taken from Jefferies and Robbie Muir’s Swerve EP, also originally released by Ajax in 1992, and it gets VT’s highest possible recommendation, naturally.