Boomkat Product Review:
Grouper's Yellowelectric imprint unearths a lost bounty of NZ/Flying Nun jangle-pop from The Clean's David Kilgour and friends. Gorgeous stuff from 1988-1993 that sheds more light on the roots of Liz Harris's shimmering sound.
When Harris was on tour a decade ago, a friend she was touring with told her about a band called Stephen that had no members named Stephen. When she called her own band Helen a few years later, it was a subtle reference. The three-piece band was formed by Kilgour, alongside Alf Danielson and Gieff Hoani, after The Clean split, and they released a single solitary EP, "Dumb" in 1988. Joined by another guitarist (Stephen Kilroy, fittingly), the band hit the studio and recorded demos for a proposed album - "Radar of Small Dogs" - but it was never finished.
In 1993, the demos were assembled and packaged with "Dumb" and two live recordings, and now Harris has had everything remastered and spruced up for this timely edition, that also includes photos, new art and liner notes, plus two more tracks from the studio sessions. It's beautiful music that represents a fertile period in the New Zealand scene, and highlights a period in Kilgour's career where he simply wanted to write songs instead of thinking about the bigger picture. Whether you're a fan of the Flying Nun sound or simply want to hear how this music inspired Liz Harris's own disembodied pop, "Radar of Small Dogs" is a fascinating slice of NZ history.