Volcanic Tongue Catalogue

Michael Morley
The Pavilion Of Fools

Gallerie Desford Vogel FSS 7s


Solo guitar/electronics record from Michael Morley of The Dead C, released by a New Zealand gallery and originally intended as a soundtrack piece. Moves from the sound of blood pulsing in your ears through classic saw-tooth Dead C riffing and Industrial machine noise. Another good one.

Bruce Russell & John Wiese

Helicopter H-40


More evacuated noise tectonics from the dream-team hook-up of US noise wunderkind John Wiese and NZ sound-thinker and Dead C member Bruce Russell. Limited to 300 copies.

Bruce Russell
Antikythera Mechanism

The Spring Press #09


Limited edition LP in a run of only 200 copies from New Zealand’s greatest axe-strangler, Bruce Russell of The Dead C. The playing here is more overtly euphoric than many of Bruce’s earlier sides, his grip tight around the neck, tearing clusters of squeal from conveyor belts of fuzz. The opening duo with Australian noise/guitarist Marco Fusinato is fairly epic but it’s the all solo “West Space One” that best documents Russell at his most Hendrix/amp-destroying. Playing with a machine gun style that comes over like Band Of Gypsies jamming the outro to “Bury”, it’s hard not to anticipate Robbie Yeats staggering in and pushing the whole thing over the cliff. Russell’s solo sides often have a whole bunch of fascinating conceptual/hermetic weight to them but Antikythera Mechanism succeeds because of its status as ‘simply’ a solo guitar record and in its own way it feels as definitive as Donald Miller’s A Little Treatise On Morals, Jandek’s Interstellar Discussion or Keiji Haino’s Affection. Bruce does a lot of actual playing here – as opposed to just letting the guitar sing - and on the third side-long track his guitar sounds closest to Nicholas from Love Cry Want’s guitar synthesizer’, albeit with the dials set to “Iron Man”. But in the end it all boils down to this: Bruce Russell was in The Dead C and you weren’t. That’s why he can pull off fringed leather jackets when you would just look like a dope. And that’s why in his hands an all-improvised guitar album sounds like the goddamn keys to the kingdom. So listen up. Pressed on ultra thick white vinyl.  Highly recommended.

The Dead C
The Damned

Starlight Furniture Company #21


2004 album from The Dead C that works to consolidate the kinda brut rock song destruction of ‘classic’ Trapdoor era with the kinda extended gunned-up machine noise of Tusk. Great, wasted performance by Morley, while Russell and Yeats stagger through the wreckage. Every release is, of course, mandatory.

Richard Francis/Jason Kahn/Bruce Russell

CMR #27


Fantastic all-electric three way that sees Bruce Russell of The Dead C (on analog electronics) joined by Richard Francis on modular synth and computer and Jason Kahn on analog synth, radio and mixing board: recorded live on January 28th 2011 at Dunedin Public Art Gallery in New Zealand, this is a single 38 minute improvisation that feels environmental in scale but with a heady synthesized aspect that makes for a ghostly metal machine music. Three distinct voices make for a bafflingly beautiful combination, with odd almost-melodies that feel like the F/X from a 1960s Supermarionation production soundtracked by Joe Meek going up against the kind of massive UFO touchdown aspect of MEV or CCCC and some supremely invasive alarm tones that have all the flesh-penetrating third ear aspect of Bernhard Gunter or Maryanne Amacher. Whenever Bruce is involved there’s always a great non-technical garage band approach to wrassling electricity into caveman submissions and at points this feels like the scientific power trio of your dreams. A great set, highly recommended. 

The Dead C/Rangda
Dead C Vs Rangda

Ba Da Bing Records BING-081


Massive two-header that presents unreleased archival recordings from legendary NZ underground group The Dead C paired with new tracks from the trio of guitarists Sir Richard Bishop (Sun City Girls) and Ben Chasny (Six Organs Of Admittance) and drummer Chris Corsano: the Dead C side is a particular revelation, with the discovery of previously unreleased tracks that were under consideration for inclusion on their masterful 1992 album for Flying Nun, Eusa Kills. On the flip Rangda make with some dazzling power trio moves, re-thinking rock dynamics with drooling polyrhythms and overdosed modal guitar histrionics that take off on Sonny Sharrock circa Monkey-Pockie-Boo. 

Peter Jefferies
The Last Great Challenge In A Dull World

De Stijl IND123


Necessary CD edition of this all-time classic New Zealand underground side, originally released in 1990 on Bruce Russell’s legendary Xpressway label: Jefferies was a member of This Kind Of Punishment and this is one of the all-time great weirdo singer-songwriter albums, with a backing band that includes all three members of The Dead C – Bruce Russell, Michael Morley and Robbie Yeats – as well as Alastair Galbraith, Kathy Bull, Robbie Muir , David Mitchell and Nigel Taylor. Jefferies channels the revenant forms of Syd Barrett and Kevin Ayers, all filtered through that amazing subterranean/basement distance that defines the best of the Xpressway sides. His song-writing is just heartrendingly beautiful, power crying over lilting repeat-piano minimalism and disembodied backing vocals, singing unaccompanied acapella tracks that have all of the alien power of Jandek and playing amazing damaged downer guitar dirges that marry the brokedown form of The Dead C to classic psychedelic songforms. Truly, an all-time desert island discs and one of the most magical moments in the Xpressway back catalogue finally available again on vinyl. Comes with a download code. No one does the sound of lonesome like Jefferies. Can’t recommend this masterpiece enough!

Gate/Tom Carter

Carbon Records CR-208


Killer US tour split 7” from Tom Carter of Charalambides and Gate aka Michael Morley of The Dead C in a hand-numbered edition of 313 copies: Tom’s side is a beauty, with an alternately triumphal/melancholy electric guitar march that weaves post-Sharrock steel string logic into webs of dissolving tone joy that are then Eno-ised for maximum bliss potential. The Gate side is phenomenally heavy, with Morley playing gravity-mashing sludge power chords in a Blue Cheer-play-Outside feel but with a whip-cracking drum machine ploughing through the spectra-thick fuzz. When Morley’s classic narcoleptic vocals drool all over the top the accumulative effect is reality dissolving. No one can sing the edge of the world blues like Michael Morley. In two colour silkscreened Stumptown kraft sleeves with a free download, highly recommended. 

Peter Jefferies

Superior Viaduct SV-055


Necessary reissue of one of the all-time New Zealand underground classics, this one belongs on the shelf of every serious VT head: released in 1994, perhaps the apex of the original avant underground, this was Jefferies’ follow-up to his great 1990 Xpressway recording, Last Great Challenge In A Dull World. Jefferies was part of the legendary This Kind Of Punishment and his song-writing style combines massively experimental basement psych/prog jams ala Vertical Slit/Jim Shepard with the kind of beautiful, avant garde piano ballad songwriting of a John Cale circa Fear/Paris 1919 et al w/a real sense of drama and mystery that is rare in the world of singer/songwriters. The supporting cast is absolutely stellar too, with Bruce Russell of The Dead C contributing electric guitar alongside Shayne Carter of Straitjacket Fits and Robbie Muir of Plagal Grind and the combination of beautiful, heartbroken piano reveries, ultra-crude drone rock jams, blurry almost Madcap Laughs-style dislocation and experimental tape works makes this a record that is heady with the possibilities of a certain time/space/place. Impossibly beautiful, raw, bled straight to tape, an inspired cover of Barbara Manning’s brilliant “Scissors”... they don’t make em like this anymore. This beautifully presented deluxe reissue comes with a gatefold sleeve featuring great snaps of Peter as well as an entire side of bonus tracks taken from Jefferies and Robbie Muir’s Swerve EP, also originally released by Ajax in 1992, and it gets VT’s highest possible recommendation, naturally.