FISHRIDER RECORDS IS A SMALL, boutique label based in Dunedin that spits out unheralded works that Porky has slavered over in the past. It’s been an outlet for a fair number of new acts, and the latest to call Fishrider home are Death & The Maiden, with a debut of the same name, after the 19th century Edvard Munch engraving.
They comprise founders Lucinda King (bass, vocals) and Danny Brady (synths), and Hope Robertson (guitars, drums).
There’s no getting round it, Death & The Maiden is stark and tense. It has a gloomy overview with songs about love and loss, albeit with a sense of hopefulness. Its shadowy, ethereal sound was no doubt given a heft by being recorded at the None Gallery in Dunedin, where many experimental and electronic records have been laid down.
The opening track Victory is curiously reminiscent of laidback post-punk types Japan, while Flowers For The Blind is a hypnotic, a pop song for a TV science programme with King’s breathy vocals giving it a sense of gravitas.
Civilisation, meanwhile, has a Ladytron-esque emphasis on synths and biting lyrics. Death & The Maiden is a record that requires patience; it’s too engaging to be labelled experimental, but too languorous to be pop.
Fishrider’s sister label in the UK, Occultation Recordings, meanwhile, also have a new album, from the hitherto unknown The Granite Shore, which features a cavalcade of musicians with long histories, such as Martin Bramah, ex Blue Orchids and Factory Star, and the June Brides’ Phil Wilson.
Once More From The Top is an album steeped in 60s story-telling and English pastoral folk of the early 1970s. It’s a concept album of sorts about a band that reforms, traversing across England, “I shall dance from here to Norwich in the rain, as long as clouds come out to see me in my pain,” sings Nick Halliwell on Nine Days’ Wonder. While there is an array of talented indie musicians onboard, this is the baby of Halliwell, who is the songwriter, producer and the label head.
By Fan Club Newsletter No.44, our mystery act addresses the myths their fans likely possess, and eerily almost barracks them into doing the right thing, “You might think it’s enough, when we’re out on the road, to buy our first album again as a download/ But we need you to come, to know every new song so it’s not just the hits where all sing along.”
After Death & The Maiden this is an easy listen. It has engaging songs, and a simplicity that is commendable.