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!

A Handful Of Dust
From A Soundtrack To The Anabase Of St-John Perse

Imminent Frequencies IF-26


Necessary exact replica reissue of this all-time classic cassette from NZ underground legends A Handful Of Dust aka the duo of Bruce Russell of The Dead C et al and Alastair Galbraith in an edition of only 150 copies: originally released on Russell’s own Corpus Hermeticum imprint in 1995, From A Soundtrack... utilises texts from St-John Perse’s amazing Anabasis poem from 1924, translated by TS Eliot, as jumping off points into magical voids of occult electricity and mind-splitting improvisations, with Russell on vocals, organ, guitar, percussion, kazoo and toy telephone and Galbraith on violin. This is a goddamn tour-de-force of visionary non-musician higher-minded improvisation tactics, moving from multi-tracked vocal recitations that would re-set “The Gift” as modernist apocalypse through sad violin laments buffeted by atonal fog horns and harmonically-dislocating bottom end electronics and heady feedback séances, all with titles like “On the Threshold of a Land More Chaste than Death” and “The Colour of Grasshoppers Crushed in Their Sap”. Free jazz + Velvets + Industrial strength improvisation = A Handful Of Dust. No one in their wake has come close to their particular brand of massively abstruse but irrefutably rock-tactile free improvisation. Makes you miss the goddamn 1990s. Cassette reissue of the year, very highly recommended!