Robert Scott. Photographer unknown.
Robert Scott has been a key figure in the New Zealand musical landscape for 40-odd years. He was the bass-playing glue that held The Clean together during their heyday and intermittent latter years, all the while contributing songs and a steadying influence. After The Clean ceased to be a full-time ongoing concern in 1982, Robert formed The Bats with Paul Kean, Kaye Woodward and Malcolm Grant as chief songwriter, singer and rhythm guitarist. The Bats surely have had one of the distinguished careers in New Zealand music, one spanning 40 years and 10 album releases. As well as side projects such as the Magick Heads, Robert has managed the occasional solo album.
Robert Scott Illustration by Robert Scott, 2022
The Creeping Unknown was released in 2001 and the title is an apt one for this weird and wonderful mix of music and moods, styles and ideas.
Come 2010 and Robert once again found himself free of Bats commitments and felt the time was right to record another solo album. He sees it as an indulgence, but undertaking this kind of project is more of a demanding pleasure. Engineer and co-producer Dale Cotton (who has worked with Bachelorette, Dimmer, HDU, Paul McLaney, The Bats, David Yetton, The Subliminals, The Verlaines, Die! Die! Die!, Mountaineater, Beastwars and more) had his recording setup ready to go and the album was recorded between Dunedin itself and St. Leonards further down Otago Harbour towards Port Chalmers.
Together, they fashioned Ends Run Together into a masterpiece which continues to display the inner places and the outer limits of Robert’s musical interests. There are excellent examples of his “conventional” material that tracks towards his work with The Bats, but his lesser known obsessions, electronica and kraut rock are also on display. This is an album of beautiful variation and surprise. Reflective and soulful as well as driving and spontaneous, this is an ambitious album showing a deceptively complex, broad and mature musical vision at work.
Ends Run Together cover by Alex Fregon.
The album's charm is largely created by the variety of material; mostly quality songs that wouldn’t fit or suit The Bats' treatment and sound, along with spontaneous efforts written while recording was underway, such as ‘Tuscan Nights’ and ‘Terminus’. These songs tend to have a freer and more experimental feel. These different songwriting approaches add a satisfying depth and complexity to the album's listening experience.
Guest musicians are used sparingly but to consistently fine affect. David Kilgour (The Clean, Great Unwashed and Stephen) gives his guitar a blast on 'Too Early to Go Out', Lesley Paris (Look Blue Go Purple) makes 'Daylight' a propulsive ‘krautish’ masterpiece and Geva Downey and Rainy McMaster (Haunted Love) vocal contributions are beautifully sublime. There is some spooky bowed saw on ‘Some Other Time’ and Alan Starrett adds texture with viola and accordion here and there. Elsewhere, Dunedin band On and On’s rhythm section, Ants Anema and Don Ferns, hold it steady, allowing Robert to fly daringly free. These musicians add significant contributions to the key songs which ultimately enhance the general shape and balance of the entire album. Robert’s singing is the finest of his career.
Robert Scott Too Early music video by John Morrison.
I like the Alex Fregon cover as well. We have a hint of the north Otago landscape, but it is being menaced by something large, strange, spherical and ominous. It might be from another planet or a recess at the back of Robert Scott’s endlessly creative mind.