David Kilgour at Arc, 13/9/07

I ventured out last night to the Arc, which is under “new” management (again.) It’s a good space but has struggled. I’m out of the loop with music at the moment as I have been engaged in different things in the last few years.

David Kilgour was playing a solo set along with the duo version of White Swan Black Swan . . . or is that Black Swan White Swan.

Anyway the Swans did a decent opening set, I liked the piano/guitar combination. It was actually surprisingly mainstream. Some of those retro sounds were very eighties indeed.

Mr Kilgour had a battle on his hands with guitars that detuned themselves and technology that wouldn’t play ball. His songs are completely suited to the electric-acoustic guitar and voice format. He decided to take things west with a laptop and backing tracks; definitely worth a try, but it just seemed to confuse the sound rather than adding much. That said, he pulled it all together with a last number where everything seemed to work and when it did work, it was good. Of course. First night of the tour and all that . . . I just wonder whether going back to the man and six strings format would be the best option for these analogue melodies.

The audience was sparse to say the least but made up for quantity by quality. After the Clean’s stonking set at the Regent for the Dunedin Sound thing a few months back, you would think the place would be packed. Glad I went anyway.

Games People Play

Some interesting sounds have appeared on my desk lately.

I discovered a copy of Roy Budd’s fantastic soundtrack to Get Carter and have been enjoying it a lot. It’s a great movie, starring Michael Caine in a career highlight, and the book it was adapted from (Jacks Return Home, by Ted Lewis) is a cracking read.

The soundtrack is crossover soul-inflected jazz interspersed with early 70s electronic effects and some haunting atmospheric work. Well worth tracking down.

Received from John recently: a collection by country-soul crossover king Joe South, best known for the post-hippy anthem “Games People Play.”

Joe is a grower, if you can get past the sometimes overenthusiastic studio trickery from thirty-something years ago, and this old country boy definitely goes with the Joe South attitude.

Dating Godot

I was alerted to a music show on National Radio last week featuring an interview with old friend and bandmate Andrew Spittle, now lost in the mists of the far north somewhere.

The half hour interview was great, and some long overdue coverage for the man who puts a new meaning to productivity. However the interviewer threw in a weird quote from an old Dead Weight article I wrote about Andrew, where I called him “one of life’s beautiful losers, a man screaming into deep space.”

If you read this Andy – you recovered well, man, after the first strangled choking noise you made. You’re right, the comment was made about your business acumen. The music stands. Or to quote from a certain movie “the dude abides.”

Skeptics

Purely by chance, later in the evening following the Chavez screening I got to see a rare live video of the last ever performance of New Zealand music group The Skeptics.

I have long regarded this group as certainly the most interesting band to come out of New Zealand. Their music is strange, dark, magical – in the sense of conjuring up strange half-felt emotions and responses. Their final recordings and songs show a much greater command of melodic expressiveness which combines powerfully with their earlier more oppressive and sinister moods.

Skeptics music evokes a wide range of responses. It makes my sister actively uncomfortable – not that she doesn’t “like” the music, just that it gives her the heebie jeebies. Others like myself have an almost cultish interest in this most grandly unlikely band of musical adventurers. Singer David D’Ath died of leukaemia in 1990, while other members went on to become sound engineers and pop stars (sort of.) It was a rare privilege to see this video – and an interesting insight into how black super taper jeans were big back in 1990.

Thanks to those who dug this one up from the archive.

Eye of Sauron versus Plan of Alpha

Yes, the rumours are true – the Alpha Plan have finally managed to crack the soundtrack game. New short NZ feature Bogans is a movie about three bogans (overseas readers – this is New Zealand vernacular for petrolheads/boy racers/young men with V8s) who decide to head to the Big Smoke (Wellington) to land work as extras in that most orc-tastic trilogy Lord of the Rings.

The Alpha Plan feature on the soundtrack with our song “Someone Else’s Air” (one of John’s numbers) from the dim dark nineties. Apparently Peter Jackson makes an appearance too . . .

Who know’s what will come next? A reformation? Invitation to play at the premiere of King Kong? Or perhaps just some more obscurity.