“The ideas need not be complex. Most ideas that are successful are ludicrously simple. Successful ideas generally have the appearance of simplicity because they seem inevitable.” (Sol LeWitt, Paragraphs On Conceptual Art)
While at the grand opening of Wellington’s newest underground art and music venue The Pyramid Club, Samin Son and myself took some time out to create a few temporary sculptures upstairs, on our way to the toilets. A bunch of great bands played (Ducklingmonster, AudioTears, Warwick and the Wankers, Ooonaverse) and a damn good night was had by all. With so many venues closing in Wellington at the moment, this is exactly what we needed. Check it out people – and make sure to support future Pyramid Club events! See more rearrangements.
At the end of last year The Bent Folk, my new band featuring Helen O’Rourke (drums) and Rupert Hunter (guitar) released our first 7″ through the wonderful Epic Sweep Records (who have also released a raft of other fantastic musicians such as Maxine Funke, Matt Middleton, The Aesthetics and A.J. Sharma – all highly recommended). It came out on 40 lovely acetate records, which are now sold out, but thanks to the wonders of Bandcamp you can still hear the lovely sounds contained within. The 7″ was produced by Finn Johansson at his home studio (he also plays a bit of piano on it), and mastered by Luke Rowell (of the wonderful Disasteradio). To top it all off, the cover art was done by the amazing Kate Laundon. We also have an EP in the works (also produced by Finn) and an album (produced by the fantastic Joel Cosgrove). Expect a whole load of new things from The Bent Folk this year!
“The Bent Folk are captured here in a slow and beautifully direct mood… the band does to folk what the Renderers do to country; both build on and break away from tradition. The single comes with a live four track CDR recording of the band which features a blistering cover of Funkadelic’s ‘Maggot Brain’. It showcases the more damaged-psych power of the band live.” (Epic Sweep)
“Dick Whyte’s lyrics balance folk’s utilisation of well-worn phrases (the “trad arr.” of language) with an uncanny/repressed that seeps through, roughed-up by his actually singing in an all-too-rare Kiwi accent. Rupert Hunter scuffs up the track with both feedback scree and psych bravado… while Helen O’Rourke’s brisk, sympathetic drumming stops affairs degenerating into sogginess.” (Stevie Kaye, The Corner)
So, it’s been a long damn while since I updated but it’s not cause I haven’t been making things – life just got in the way. So many new things to post, so I’ll just take my time and get them up as they occur to me. For now, here is Supercomposer’s 2013 album, Volume 2 of my ongoing plunderphonic collaborations with Kanye West. Like the previous volume, George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People, this features two extended minimalist piano compositions made from samples used by West on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. This time I have repurposed Aphex Twin’s Avril 14th, (an amazing track in its own right) which West used in Blame Game.
In other news YEEZUS is fucking HOT. Don’t let anyone tell ya any different. I mean, come on, even Bruce Springsteen loves it. Check his performance of Blood On The Leaves from Jools Holland if you don’t believe me. I mean, as always, Kanye’s lyrics about women are problematic to say the least, but I have never been one to write something off solely because of this (the entire history of white male rock music, anyone?). That’s not to say I don’t think his representation of women shouldn’t be critiqued either – it should. Nuff said.
Since late last year I have been jamming some old and new songs with Big Rick! drummer extraordinaire Helen O’Rourke. This slowly turned into a more serious project with the addition of Yawn guitar legend Rupert Hunter. We played a few gigs under a variety of names (Dick Whyte and the Red-Headed Step-Child, Dick Whyte and Epic Friends, Dick Whyte and the Easy Travellers) until Noel Meek described us as ‘bent folk’ at the last Crypt Sessions, which seemed to stick.
The second is a series of supercompositions made from free 30s song samples on the ESP Disc website (for those who don’t know, ESP is one of the preeminent free-jazz labels of the 20th century). Based on the following simple instructions: “1) Open an album at random on espdisc.com. 2) Start playing the first free 30s song sample. 3) After approximately 10s start playing the second 30s song sample. 4) Repeat process until the source material is exhausted, while recording the outcomes.” It includes remixes of Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Charles Manson and Billie Holliday (among others). Have a listen to Supercomposer’s efforts below – or try making your own! Free to download on Bandcamp.
“Since its inception in 2009, Dick Whyte and Laurence Stacey’s Haiku News – the newspaper written in the Japanese poetic form of haiku – has continued to promote the idea that “the personal is the political is the poetical”, allowing writers to share their personal reflections on noteworthy news items, presenting the current political climate in a new, often very personal light. And it is certainly no arena for cheap attempts at word-game haiku. This is a very serious literary journal that documents our times in the short form poetry of writers across the globe. Indeed, the poems that have graced the pages of this unique newspaper since 2009 have, with and without the stories that inspired them, presented some staggeringly exquisite and moving moments of micropoetry.” (Liam Wilkinson)
I am currently playing bass for the Wellington rock band Big Rick, and having a blast doing it (that’s us above, with me in the funny hat). The band also includes the wonderful Heleyni Pratly on guitar and vocals, Joel Cosgrove on guitar and vocals, and Helen O’Rourke on drums. My time in the band ends in December, when the new bass player Rohan takes over (an exciting addition). At that time I will resume production duties (Heleyni jokingly refers to me as their Brian Eno – although Jim O’Rourke and Bob Rock are also apt comparisons, though I am unsure which I prefer). For now you can check out their first EP ‘Big Rick To France’ on Bandcamp (which I did not play on, but did help engineer and mix). I especially recommend the first song Boogie Dance, which is an absolute gem (and if that doesn’t satisfy your appetite, they have some demos online as well).
Big Rick are also playing a lot of shows in the next two months so keep your eyes and ears open. The EP release gig is happening on Dec. 1st at the Newtown Bowls Club in Wellington, and we’re playing in Auckland, Dunedin and possibly Christchurch too, later in December (as well as various parties and some other surprise appearances). Find out more by checking out their Facebook Page.
Fourth album by electroacoustic improvisers Nova Scotia (Dean Brown, Rick Jensen, Dick Whyte). Originally released on the independent label Nezvanova Nova this album was unavailable pretty much as soon as it came out. Finally, thanks to the beauty of Bandcamp, it’s in print again for the first time in two years. And while I may be slightly bias, this album is one of my favorite Nova Scotia releases so it makes me especially happy to see it reissued digitally. Find out more about Nova Scotia on the weirdly comprehensive H-Town Wiki.
Liner Notes: Track 2, 3 and 4 recorded at the Photospace Gallery in Wellington on 16/07/03. Track 5 recorded during the 2002 Lines of Flight festival at Arc Cafe in Dunedin on 29/09/02. Track 6 recorded at the Photospace Gallery on 17/12/05. Who knows what instruments we’re all playing – but I can hear horns, harmonicas, bells, tape loops, acoustic guitar and radios, among other things.
“Clearly, the practice of employing geographical themes in band designations has produced largely dubious outcomes (e.g. Asia, Boston, Chicago, America, Kansas, Berlin, Danzig, Hanoi Rocks, etc.). Also personally, I regard naming anything after anything to do with the frozen wasteland otherwise known as Canada to be a questionable aesthetic move. This is just my prejudice. I firmly believe that America has been watching the wrong border for far too long. But that’s another discussion. The music of Nova Scotia, however, has got enough swank to make me forgive any misgivings about their moniker. For those who thrive on other band comparisons, their m.o. could be described as the Animacathedral Lab Technicians Orchestra of Admittance. This is not, however, to imply that these folks smartly rip off obscure bands whilst most stupidly rip off well-known bands. No, if you dig the four outfits I just referred to, you’ll be happy to shovel this dirt too. Sparse, ramshackle drug shuffle that fuses kooky “ethnic” influences and improv abstractions with aplomb.” (Reid Gilchrist, from a review of the 2002 Lines of Flight Festival)
First episode of The Face Of Panic, a new radio show produced by Laura Wells and hosted by Tao Wells, is up on Soundcloud for anyone that missed it last Thursday. Featuring a great selection of music (Yoko Ono, Crude, Lightning Bolt), an interview with activist/politician Sue Bradford, a reading from Peter Burger’s ‘Theory of the Avant-Garde’ and a short appearance by yours truly. The show airs fortnightly, with the next episode on Thursday June 21st from 8-10pm (NZ time) streaming live on Fresh FM. UPDATE: Listen to more episodes on their blog.