Nunlog: Bruce Russell's 'Time To Go'
He has also written a column for Volcanic Tongue which is well worth checking out as well (some good photos too).
Time to go – the southern psychedelic moment: 1981-86
- Bruce Russell
Journalists looking back at the early years of Flying Nun generally make two mistakes. One is to think that the main creative impetus came from Dunedin, when in reality there was as much if not more really memorable music coming from Christchurch, the town that actually gave birth to the label. The other mistake is to think that the music being made was simply a direct response to what was hip in the post-punk music of the day.
What really marked that music and set it apart from much that was happening elsewhere was that it was in a real sense ‘out of time’ – its crucial engagement was with the psychedelic tradition of the 60s. In the South Island there was a shared insight that cut across bands as diverse as the Gordons, the Clean and the Puddle: that punk’s Year Zero was a chance to wind back the clock and pick up again in 1967, and make it bad.
While in some cases this was clearly seen at the time (witness the overt California-isms of the Chills and Sneaky Feelings), in many cases the influence was more coded. While it may have been clearly understood by the musicians, it was not so widely comprehended outside the narrow confines of what was in media terms an underground scene.
This compilation seeks to draw representative tracks from all the key outfits active in Christchurch and Dunedin during the first heyday of Flying Nun, the ‘heroic period’ of lo-tech recording, handmade covers and ‘extended play’ 45s. This is not a ‘greatest hits’ of the label. Many of these tracks and some of the bands are relatively obscure. They have been chosen to highlight some aspect or other of counter-cultural psychedelia in the Muldoon era.
This was pop music that went ‘beyond the given’ and aspired to make or say something more, something real. 1981 was a time of riots and widespread unemployment. There was a feeling that things had to change. It was – as the Clean sang – ‘time to go’.