Radio One 91FM – A Century Of Seasons
Reviewed by Joe Dodgshun
If you have ever been intrigued when someone speaks of the ‘Dunedin sound’, then I highly recommend getting your hands on this meaty little compilation. While the Dunedin sound championed by Flying Nun Records has typically been viewed as a portmanteau of low fidelity production and jangly guitar, as evidenced by A Century Of Seasons it has now morphed into a far more complex character. Boasting 40 tracks sprawled over a two-disk set (one disc retro, the other ‘Nowtro’), in order to celebrate their 25th birthday Radio One trawl back through the local annals to explore the music that made and still continues to make Dunedin a hotbed of underground music activity.
Retro kicks off with a haunting rendition of the iconic track Pink Frost from The Chills recorded live in Auckland’s Rumba Bar in 1982 (incidentally, a year before the death of drummer Martyn Bull), before name checking the likes of Double Happys, Look Blue Go Purple, The Puddle, The Bats, The Verlaines and Cloudboy. In addition to such classics, there are gems such as the gleeful hysteria of David Mitchell’s Dead Dog In Port Chalmers and the rabid feedback of High Dependency Unit’s Fauxtekra, before closing the late 2000s with entries from Die!Die!Die! and The Clean. Surprisingly, Chris Knox and particularly his bands The Enemy, and Toy Love are nowhere to be seen.
Nowtro reflects the diversity blossoming towards the end of disc one, entering with the epic grandeur of soundscapists Operation Rolling Thunder (A Matter Of Space). It then moves on to showcase the latest exponents of classic Dunedin guitar style from The Tweeks, The Alpha State, Onanon and the overtly psychedelic Hombre from The Aesthetics. For absence of a better term, Soulseller let loose gritty stoner rock on Year Of The Dog, Knives At Noon let loose synth-rock with Purple Star, Haunted Love play dreamy pop, Nightshade ft Sarah Callander provide soul’n’bass à lá Shapeshifter, SoNic Smith brings glitchy electronica, you get the idea… Nowtro also ups the experimentation stakes with tracks from The Autoharpies (sounds like a young goat being tortured) and Brains, who, while sounding far more cohesive than the former, assail with grating atmospherics and a punk ethos.
A Century Of Seasons shows that amongst expanding genres and experimentation the Dunedin sound of yore prevails even today, but more importantly than retaining any one particular sound, the pioneering spirit of that time is alive and kicking.