Ivan Zagni / Steve Garden
Not content with already being a home to the weird and wonderful – equal vestiges considered always. Steve Garden has expanded his Rattle Records label of quality New Zealand art music to include now the imprint, Rattle Echo. It is the role of this side-shoot to be home to recordings from the past; reissues and re-tweaks of lost and/or forgotten Kiwi classics from the artier side.
What is sometimes forgotten now too – given his roles as label head, engineer and producer (and occasional film critic) is that Garden was (is) a drummer. And here with Ivan Zagni he was co-composer and added a range of synths, voices and various percussion instruments as well as drum kit to the sonic explorations that were carved out in the mid-80s.
Originally released on Ode in 1984 as a Selection of Trouble Spots – all recordings made in 83 and 84 – this new look at that weird and wonderful album features updated versions of the original recordings, they’ve been augmented, reworked, remixed – pieces added or subtracted.
Prepared compositions sit alongside improvisations as Zagni (guitar, bass, synth, voices) and Garden (aforementioned drums/percussion) are joined at various points by Peter Scholes (sax, clarinet, recorders) Amanda Hollis (flute, voice), Don McGlashen (voice) and one or two other guests.
From agitated, tinkering slices of soundscape that noodle and nuzzle at the creases of abstract composition to bonafide pop gems (albeit beamed down from an alt. universe) Trouble Spots now (as then, no doubt) makes for the very best in uneasy listening.
My favourite piece here is Elbow Room where Agony Aunt Q&As are read out over a hooky little groove; think the darker side of The Front Lawn. There’s also Double Circle (my reference to a pop gem); it’s like instrumental Split Enz – if only the Neil and Tim version of the band could have ‘talked’ to the Judd and Chunn version.
I always say this about Rattle records – and it’s never more so that case than with the new Rattle Echo (re) releases but this won’t be for everyone. And that’s gloriously the case here. So, lucky us!
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