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Crude

What is Crude? Crude is a one-man ball of hypermusical activity named Matt Middleton. Operating under the Crude moniker, Matt has released a slew of tapes on his own Dirtlove label; Inner City Guitar Perspectives is a compilation of the smorgasbord of sonics he has to offer. Multi-instrumentalist Matt came dragged to Flying Nun's attention in 1995 through the effort of major fans, King Loser and Shayne Carter.

 

By that time, Matt was already many years into a musical career that had its beginnings in Invercargill, learning clarinet from the age of ten, switching to drums and joining his first heavy metal band aged 14. Matt left Invercargill behind in 1994, heading to Christchurch with a few copies of his first Crude cassette The World Is So You Have Something to Stand On. He ended up sending it to an address he found on a King Loser self-released cassette and within weeks he was churning out more Crude hits on the four-track owned by then-KL drummer Duane Zarakov.

Matt briefly played clarinet in Zarakov's other band, Spacedust, before making his next move, to Dunedin. In Dunedin, he drummed in Dimmer for a period and played with a number of local bands, all the while continuing to record Crude material with a host of collaborators including Heazlewood, Carter, members of Trash and Waste The Earth. The Dirtlove catalogue has since extended to over thirty cassettes - many of them Crude outings, but also including releases by Zarakov, Matt's longtime collaborator Dan Tait ("Invercargill's Lou Barlow") and a number of other Middleton projects like the low-fi techno outfit Whispering City... Ready for Flying Nun? We guess so!

Matt's range of influences (current interests: Suicide, John Coltrane, Chrome, Miles Davis, Neu, Ornette Coleman, Snapper and Stockhausen) allied with his musical approach of "persuasive polyphony" all point the way in to Crude's Inner City Guitar Perspectives. The hotwired drumming genius, surprising guitar control, beautiful clarinet texturing and irresistible ability to piece together sound, music and lateral thought will lead you out again. Not to forget the odd legitimate foray from "howling jive" into the swingin' sounds of the pop/rock genre. Like Daniel Johnston playing krautrock in a Dunedin free jazz joint, these 18 Crude perspectives must be listened to to be believed.

From the cosmonaut blast-off and clang of opening cut, "Certificate of Distinction", the mood jumps, clatters and skids from one track to the next. Off through proto-garage s kronk in "Friends" and "Sumerian Art Therapy" into the thoroughly technoidal "Far Out Italian Futurism", a mood that oozes to a Neu-ish bleep in "Action Stations". The sound of the Residents submerged with clarinet appears in "Ev'ry Man's A Winner", "Slapper" and "Introducing Sharise", where things get almost poppy, as they do again in "Simon Says". There's also an Albert Ayler-like moment in "Evocation". Everything is 'tidied' up by "In Conclusion", which opens as a gentle broken twang and then finishes in a scattered shut-down of tinny synthesiser action...

And us here at Flying Nun aren't the only suckers for the uneasy low-fi musings of this strange and compelling talent - several US labels including Forced Exposure (the Boston home of the more esoteric end of Sonic Youth's outpourings and the cream of the influential Japanese free-noise psychedelic underground) have releases scheduled from the prolific Crude. You'll know by the time you've taken in these Inner City Guitar Perspectives if you're ready for more Crude. Visits to these kinds of self-contained musical worlds, existing on the very f ringes, can become strangely addictive. Is the rest of the world ready for Crude? Half the reward is in the challenge; the rest is in the music. Everyone should be listening.

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