Like a search for murder clues / in dead men’s eyes

I went to New Zealand and came back swamped in music, both new and old. After nine months away my wall of CDs in Auck­land became a trea­sure trove. I looked, I touched and I pulled out a bunch to bring back here to Bali (quite a stack actu­al­ly, but lat­er trimmed by weight con­straints).

My vinyl is anoth­er mat­ter. God I miss it, but with­out ready access to a turntable, or the time to set mine up, all I could do was look and rub my hands and fin­gers across the spines. I spent a good half a day doing just that in my stor­age space…it’s an issue I need to resolve soon to stay sane. But that said, sim­ply look­ing at them gives me real joy.

Yes, I know its odd, but there are oth­ers out there who understand..not least of those being the staff at Conch Records and the swarm of dis­rep­uta­bles (DJs) that I felt the need to gath­er out­side with.

And going into Conch and pulling out kilos of vinyl (my shoul­der tells me vinyl should be mea­sured thus) I want but hav­ing to tell myself that I need to wait.

But, despite that, I came back to this isle with quite a haul. As I type I’m lis­ten­ing to some thump­ing Roy Haynes, and I’ve got myself a bunch of old Elvis Costel­lo, a bunch of New Order, Carl Craig, Sina­tra, John Cale, a cou­ple of those won­der­ful Miles Davis boxed sets (includ­ing the Gil Evans ses­sions), old NZ garage thin­gies from the six­ties, var­i­ous ear­ly Atlantic col­lec­tions, and a whole lot more, and now, for a spell, I’m hap­py again.

And even more so because I did quite well in the need-new-music I’ve not heard before stakes. From Conch came two ret­ro­spec­tive­ly aimed col­lec­tions that are real­ly doing the trick. First­ly Good God, a col­lec­tion of very bloody obscure (and I like obscure as much as I like in yer face pop more often than not) soul­ful gospel and funk tracks, some of which are so relent­less­ly tough you sus­pect Satan didn’t let go alto­geth­er.

And then there is the Gilles Peter­son Fania col­lec­tion. Some­body at V2 was smart enough to buy the leg­endary NY Latin label and we can expect a raft of reis­sues of this glo­ri­ous stuff in the forth­com­ing months, to fol­low those already out. I hate pseu­do Lati­no funk or most Latin rhythms in house, but Fania is the biz and this is so steamy after­noon Bali – worth the price for Willie Rosario’s street grind­ing take on that guide to the uses of but­ter (that Fonter­ra would rather you didn’t know about), the Theme To Last Tan­go In Paris.

And then there is the brand spank­ing new. Well, new to me at least. I love the Jus­tice album – yes I know in pop terms its two months old now, but I’ve mum­bled on about the sin­gle D.A.N.C.E for months now, a blessed mashup best described as Daft Chic please. But this ain’t Musique, this is good old fash­ioned wave yer hands in the air, hoover rave. For half an hour no pris­on­ers are tak­en in the cere­bral sense. I drove around Auck­land with this very, very loud in the bor­rowed bat­tered Range Rover. It’s fan­tas­tic. My peers may think I’m odd lis­ten­ing to this one.

But they might kind of under­stand The L.E.D.s. Their album came out last year, via a home press­ing in Christchurch, in New Zealand’s almost desert­ed South Island (the iso­la­tion helps add the nec­es­sary eccen­tric­i­ty to give this its alt-pop glit­ter), and a lot of peo­ple I respect­ed talked about it over the months. But, could I get it in Auck­land? Nobody had heard of it. Instead, I final­ly found, via Smoke CDs in Welling­ton, a copy of …we are The L.E.D.s .

I’m in love. I love this album more than I can pos­si­bly say, or at least, put into words. This is lega­cy stuff. I under­stand this. Any album which ref­er­ences so well ear­ly NZ elec­tron­i­ca (Car Crash Set and Body Elec­tric), jan­g­ly almost ear­ly Fly­ing Nun-ish, (although slight­ly more McGuinn-ish than that) gui­tar sheen, and yet sounds so absolute­ly, but sim­ply, con­tem­po­rary, works well for me. Soft, resigned, melod­ic and yet, at times, it gets res­olute­ly noisy as well. It’s the first per­fect­ly formed pop album I’ve heard from New Zealand this decade. Anoth­er album, I under­stand, is due soon and I’m crav­ing it already.

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