BY BARRY ST. VITUS
Buffs of both Kiwi birds and Kiwi pop will be happy to hear that both are alive and doing well down in the God Zone. David Kilgour (and brother Hamish) are essential early influences in putting Kiwi pop, and specifically, the ‘Dunedin Sound,’ on the radar in the early ‘80’s. That region has a dizzying, almost incestuous intermingling of bands and musicians that you need a flow-chart to keep it all straight. With his Heavy 8’s, Kilgour steps away from his Clean cohorts, and brings in Taane Takona on drums, Tom Bell on bass thumps, and most excellent guitarist Tony de Raad.
This recently completed project, End Times Undone, was started back in 2012, when Kilgour first assembled the members, then would only get together to record in dribs and drabs every four or five months, and for only a few days each time. This was their method to milk the creative juices… plug in, play, record, and levitate to the god zone. Lightning captured in a bottle is the final result, and a rapturous listening experience for us. Kilgour has been honing his songwriting skills for over three decades, skillfully burnishing his lilting songwriting and mastering his guitar playing. This collection contains excellent examples of his writing diversity and sublime playing, especially in accompaniment with de Raan.
Three of the numbers I can group into a certain sound. Track one, “Like Rain,” is a very sweet, mid-career Byrd’s-sounding/Paisley Underground tune. “Christopher Columbus” offers up something reminiscent of the country side of the Byrd’s, and on “Some Things You Don’t Get Back,” strummy, gentle and catchy, is very Kiwi, but again, there’s some chiming Byrd’s flavor there.
“Lose Myself In Sound” is where their ‘Heavy’ part kicks in, as they all fall in together for an instrumental jam that finishes out the song with a filigree of feedback. “Light Headed” would make great background music for inhaling nitrous oxide to. Very float-y, shimmery and perfectly named. The song “Crow,” has a slightly different folk-rock vibe going on that recalls bands like the great Society in the early ballroom days in mid-‘60’s San Francisco. It’s a slow-burner that’s about 90% trance-y instrumental.
One gem that really stands out as a Clean clone, is “Dropper,” setting a slightly heavier pace, including a couple cool breaks infused with smushed, buzzy guitars. Not forgetting the Bats, “Coming On” is a sweet number that shares their sound, employing a nice complexity in the melody. With a gentle plodding pace, “I don’t Want To Live Alone,” with its lyrics lowly recited, almost in confidence to the listener, forces you to pay closer attention. “Down the Tubes” presents itself as another blissful, standout piece of music here.
What you end up with on End Times Undone, is a trance-y, pop-psych, hypno-rhythmic romp that showcases a group of players that have magically meshed into a single hive-mind, behind the very talented Mr. K., at the top of his game. I truly suspect that there’s something wonderful in the water down there, as so many musicians there seem to be under the influence of something magical that has nothing to do with Peter Jackson.
DOWNLOAD: “Like Rain,” “Dropper,” “Christopher Columbus.“