I knew I've heard of Pumice before...I looked up an old post....ok, This is Stephan Neville from New Zealand with the low-fi 4 track stuff...this got me thinking, I need to reexamine that categorization. You can't just throw that around anymore. 4-track doesn't mean it was recorded to a cassette and bounced down a million times, with that inherent hiss and hands on craft. It's hilarious to even think there was a dolby noise reduction setting on the Tascam...it was always on, but I could never hear any change. So most likely it's recorded on a computer, with some kind of mixer software, but anything with the word laptop in it just makes me think about some kind of electronic, minimal, rave, DJ world. So it's home recorded. Experimental? In the way that he's using sounds in unconventional ways. So what's going on? Is this low-fi? Yes...at times. And that's going around lately don't get me wrong, it might be a red flag to some readers. It's practically required these days, and not even out of necessity, purely for texture, to maybe take itself a little less seriously? Things recorded too perfectly, lose the human element? All of this is at work on this new single from Pumice on Soft Abuse.
Pumice has been around since '91 but has been on a bit of a hiatus the past few years, but is back with this new original and a couple of covers on the B-Side.
To me this single, the A-Side, 'The dawn chorus of kina' is reminding me of The Microphones, and Mt Eerie stuff, intensely personal, idiosyncratic visions of making music. This track runs through all kinds of emotional landscapes from repetitive beat with layers of muddy guitars bleeding into one solid hazy melody that later breaks down into jagged angular strums, and then gets real quiet bringing the first melody back with a double time kick beat. Deconstructing the original melody and mixing it up, turning it over into something new by the time it comes out on the other side. It's an instrumental journey.
I'm surprised I really haven't hear him brought up in the low-fi conversations, the timeline, having started during the time of all the other low-fi contemporaries. If anything I think that's what being from New Zealand gets you...you're lumped in with the Dead C...all the flying nun stuff...you can't break away from that categorization.
Both of the covers on the B-Side are miles away from the introspective first side, but these are covers remember? The first 'Open Up' is a Michael Hurley song from his 1971 album 'Armchair Boogie'. Both are played with a ukulele sound, or maybe just capo-ed up acoustics, I'm even catching an accent, on these quiet syrupy tracks. Lots of echo, layers of vocals, with just enough tempo to keep it from stalling completely. Goth Folk for an acoustic indie set. Especially on 'Pacific Ocean', from a contemporary NZ band, The Axemen who must have played a show or two with Pumice. It's more upbeat, but Pumice just has this melancholy style that takes this somewhat optimistic song and flips it.
Get it direct from Soft Abuse....they also put out a tour Grouper/Pumice split that I think you'll have to track down on ebay at this point...I'm going to be getting his full length efforts from SA after hearing this single.
Following a mammoth tour of Europe, Japan & the US in 2007-2008, Stefan Geoffrey Neville took a sabbatical from Pumice. After a silence of several months, Stefan slowly began to re-emerge in New Zealand, playing (the drums) with a few bands in Auckland. Slowly, a few proper Pumice gigs were played & soon thereafter, in January 2009, Neville started work on a new batch of recordings. One of those found a home on the split single with Grouper, while the others, appear on Persevere; a befitting title for Neville's first new grip of songs following his hiatus. Three songs comprise Persevere: 'The Dawn Chorus of Kina,' an ode to (alleged) singing sea urchin, and covers from two vision-sharing kindred spirits: The Axemen ('Pacific Ocean') and Michael Hurley ('Open Up'). Persevere is released in an edition of 500 copies, housed in textured paper sleeves adorned with Neville's signature dog drawings. - Soft Abuse