Flying Nun Records and Propeller Records are thrilled to announce a special double disc (and “double front cover”) vinyl release of The Body Electric’s iconic 1983 album Presentation and Reality, plus The Body Electric 12” with four remastered tracks from the same era; including ‘Pulsing’, ‘Who Takes the Rap’, ‘Dash 1721’ and ‘Rubber Knife’. The tracks were remastered by Alan Jansson and Garry Smith at Uptown Studios. The standard black reissue is out Saturday April 23, with pre-orders available now. An extra special “Limited Release Colour Vinyl” package will be available in-store only on release day (Saturday April 23).
The Body Electric are often referred to as the pioneers of electronica in Aotearoa, emerging in 1980 from the remains of the infamous Wellington Terrace Scene — which housed some of NZ’s most emblematic indie bands including The Steroids and Shoes This High.
The mid-to-late 70s saw the rise of German electronic trailblazers, Kraftwerk and Neu!, bleeding into the likes of Gary Numan and The Human League, who found themselves with a strong fanbase in New Zealand. Alan Jansson and Andy Craig, the earliest members of The Body Electric, took notes and began experimenting with synthesisers and drum machines.
“Electronics have meant a complete shift from the performer to the composer. People don’t realise that synthesizers mean you’ve got an orchestra at your command. You can alter the tonal quality of sounds.” - Alan Jansson to Rip It Up Magazine in 1983.
The pair were later joined by Garry Smith and eventually Wendy Calder, creating a synth-pop soundscape that was the first of its kind to breakthrough Aotaeroa’s music charts. They released their first 12” EP, The Body Electric in November of 1982, with the help of Jim Moss from Jayrem Records. This was followed by their debut album, Presentation and Reality, in 1983.
Pulsating synth waves float above mechanical beats, with Wendy Calder’s Steinberg bass smacking alongside Garry’s theatrical vocals; The Body Electric’s Presentation and Reality was a refreshing gem in New Zealand’s music scene. As initiators of this brand new wave of electronica in Aotearoa, The Body Electric were unafraid to march to the beat of their own drum, or in this case, drum machine — but it paid off; “You know, the worst thing about Body Electric is that we’ve come out of the underground and Joe Public likes us.” Alan says to David Taylor in an interview published in Rip It Up magazine, 1983. ‘Pulsing’ (The Body Electric EP) broke into the scene after being played to death on 95bFM. The Body Electric LPs were also a popular spin of choice at Auckland club A Certain Bar, getting heavy play by the likes of Simon Grigg and Mark Phillips. A Certain Bar was considered to be a quintessential venue in the revolution of dance and club culture in Auckland, and this helped to push The Body Electric’s hypnotising beats into the ears and muscles of the large dancing crowds, which grew to about 800 people most Friday and Saturday nights. ‘Pulsing’ made it onto the NZ Music Charts, peaking at #13. It maintained its spot for 27 weeks — perhaps one of the longest charting New Zealand singles during the 1980s. Their album also made it on, peaking at #32. The band performed at the New Zealand Music Awards in 1983, as well as being nominated for Most Promising Group.
The group was set to travel to America to meet with producers, but unfortunately, those plans were halted after Alan was involved in a car crash. By the time he recovered, The Body Electric was no longer in line with the direction that the members wanted to take. In the early days of 1984, the group disbanded, leaving their limited discography as an imprint on New Zealand electronic music for years to come. Alan and Garry opened a recording studio, Module 8 (later known as Uptown Records), which acquired the first Fairlight digital audio workstations in New Zealand. Jansson went on to record the likes of OMC and Chain Gang.
Both the EP and album, once sitting in $4.99 bins at Wellington’s Chelsea Records, eventually became extremely sought after all over the world. The original pressings are now worth upwards of $200 and they both remain pillars in New Zealand’s music history.
“We’d create an escape for the people. In these hard times of gloom, depression and no money, people don’t want to hear about themselves. Body Electric is an escape”. - Alan Jansson, ‘Facing Reality: The Body Electric’, David Taylor, Rip It Up Magazine, 1983.
The Body Electric EP and Presentation and Reality will be available as a double disc package; a 45RPM 12” EP and 33RPM LP respectively. This release is brought to life by Flying Nun Records in collaboration with Propeller Records, and is the first physical reissue since the early 80s. An extra special “Limited Release Colour Vinyl” package will be available in store only on release day, but pre-orders for the standard black package are available now.