Posts Tagged ‘Unknown Country’

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In 1978, The Clean were the seeds of New Zealand punk scene. In the years since, they have carved out a big sandbox for everyone to play in, and their influence resonates not only in NZ but around the world. A group that thrives when free of expectations, The Clean’s Robert Scott, Hamish Kilgour, and David Kilgour are, as Tape Op described, “a casually wonderful band.”

If the Clean were motivated by anything other than a seemingly pure love of music, “Mister Pop” would have been a very different album. Since the last time the band made a record, scores of new bands have discovered the awesome early work the Clean recorded back in the ’80s and have incorporated the raw, scratchy, and energetic feel of those records into their sound. The group could have easily tried to capitalize on its newfound icon status and made an album that harked back to its early years. No one would have blamed them for cashing in; nobody would have begrudged them a few minutes of near fame. Instead, the band — still the brothers Kilgour (David and Hamish) and Robert Scott have made a laid-back, hazy, and thickly psychedelic album that sounds more like something the band might have made in the ’90s.

This is a double reissue on the Merge Records label from The Clean’s ‘Unknown Country’ and ‘Mister Pop’ on vinyl. Originally released in 1996 and 2009, respectively.

The Clean have always exuded a casual grace that suggests they’d still be making the same records even if no one was listening, employing the same set of devices ramshackle locomotive rhythms, buoyant basslines, swirling organ lines, and wide-smile melodies irrespective of prevailing fashions, technological developments, or geopolitical unrest. And yet, the Clean’s periodic resurgences serve as a reminder that, in a world of uncertainty, there are still some things you can rely on.”

Originally released in 1996, The Clean’s “Unknown Country” makes its debut appearance on vinyl . Recorded and mixed in two sessions during 1996, The Clean yet again prove to be masters of musical innovation, three guys who can only amaze when they come together and throw all their ideas down on tape. And as a mood of supreme grooviness is all-pervading on Unknown Country, this is The Clean at their most timeless.

The odd pop songs focus on the tension and the release that characteristic of psychedlic rock although Champagne and Misery stays close The Clean’s canon, Wipe Me I’m Lucky experiments shyly, and Walk Walk is warped like a cartoon soundtrack.

David Kilgour on “Mister Pop”: “Mister Pop began in Brooklyn, NY, at Gary Olson’s Marlborough Farms studio and was completed in the basement hall of First Church Dunedin. There is more synthesizer on this album than the others, mainly an old Juno synth. I do remember having a bath in Brooklyn while Robert was downstairs singing and writing. I thought he was singing “he’s a factory man,” so I dried off and went down and wrote “Factory Man” while thinking heavily of The Kinks. Rainy and Geva from Haunted Love did some great work on backing vocals for “Loog” and “Dreamlife.” And old friend and long time Clean collaborator Alan Starrett makes an appearance on “Moonjumper.”

Of this album, The Clean’s David Kilgour writes, “The Clean always wanna try something different, but on this LP, we were obsessed with the idea.” Bandmate Robert Scott agrees, saying, “I really enjoyed recording this as it was free of expectation. Certainly our most experimental album.”

‘Unknown Country’, the third LP by New Zealand indie band The Clean, was originally released in 1996. Whilst they are generally known for their jangle-pop nuggets, this sprawling masterpiece is the result of studio experimentation and spontaneous recording sessions. Gorgeous instrumental tracks such as ‘Wipe Me, I’m Lucky’ and ‘Franz Kafka at the Zoo’ are interspersed with wonky pop gems such as the Pavement-esque ‘Twist Top’. For fans of The Bats and The Chills.

On March 26th Merge Records will reissue The Clean’s Unknown Country and Mister Pop on vinyl Originally released in 1996 and 2009, respectively, this marks the first time each of these albums will be available on vinyl in the U.S. (they’ll also be available worldwide).

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Robert Scott on “Mister Pop”: “I remember thinking at the start of the NY sessions with Gary Olson, “Is this the start of a new album?” We were coming up with quite a bit of new stuff, and of course, Gary is great to work with. We carried on at Burlington St in Dunedin with (engineer and Heavy 8) Tex Houston at the controls, good fun from what I remember, lots of mucking around with keyboards and synths. We were going for that Krautrock groove and we sure got it on “Tensile,” one of my faves along with the pure pop of “Dreamlife.” “Loog” was a fun song to put together. “Asleep in the Tunnel” is written about being stuck in traffic in a tunnel under the Hudson River in NY.”

 

In 1978, The Clean were the seeds of New Zealand punk. They carved out a big sandbox for everyone to play in, and their influence resonated not only in NZ but around the world. This fall’s Mister Pop sees The Clean continue the great pop pastiche. Circus ragas (“Moonjumper”), hazy sunset anthems (“In the Dreamlife You Need a Rubber Soul”), and the loose Dada approach to word-smithery continue alongside “proper” lyrical forays and a few Autobahn-referential instro moments to boot (“Tensile”).

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The Kiwi Pop giants and lo-fi all-stars return with, incredibly, only the fifth LP in their storied career from 2009. In 1978, The Clean were the seeds of New Zealand punk. They carved out a big sandbox for everyone to play in, and their influence resonated not only in NZ but around the world.

Mister Pop sees The Clean continue the great pop pastiche. both albums are out in March, through Merge Records