Four 180g black vinyl LPs housed in two gatefold jackets
20-page collector's booklet of lyrics, photos, comics, posters, and other ephemera
Double CD set in a 4-panel wallet with a 6-panel folded insert of photos and ephemera
“this box set will bless you with some of the catchiest and most intelligent songwriting ever conceived. acoustic outsider poetry punk, mixed with a ‘studio as instrument’ artfulness. what more could you want?” — jeff mangum, neutral milk hotel
Tall Dwarfs – the prized New Zealand duo of Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate – announce , out Unravelled: 1981–2002 August 19th on Merge Records. The 4-LP or 2-CD set compiles 55 songs from Tall Dwarfs’ two decades of recordings, shining a loving light on the lo-fi pioneers. The vinyl LP edition is pressed on 180g vinyl housed in two gatefold jackets and includes a 20-page collector’s booklet of photos, comics, posters, and other ephemera, all packaged in a slipcase.
After a failed flirtation with success in their previous band
Toy Love, Knox and Bathgate formed Tall Dwarfs in 1981, opting to record themselves on a 4-track reel-to-reel. AudioCulture wrote of the duo’s project: “Early live performances were a ramshackle work in progress. Knox described them in an interview with American magazine Forced Exposure as ‘ two minutes of song followed by five minutes of fucking around,’” and they dismayed many Toy Love fans – but the pair had no interest in a career spent in pubs cranking out “Pull Down the Shades.”
Tall Dwarfs was meant to be a one-off, but after the founding of their New Zealand label
Flying Nun, they continued to record music for the next 21 years, releasing seven EPs and six albums. Their process was spontaneous, with songs being recorded as they were written. Typically, Bathgate would work up something on guitar while Knox provided vocals, lyrics, and tape loops. Then they added any sounds that seemed necessary to finish a song, using whatever was lying around: pans, chairs, baby rattles. Though Tall Dwarfs could be weird, they were never too experimental; Knox and Bathgate both loved melody too much (“Beatlesque” appeared more often than any other adjective in their reviews).
The songs on
Unravelled: 1981–2002 were curated by Bathgate, who also designed the box set packaging; Chris Knox suffered a debilitating stroke in 2009 just as they had started work on a new album. The collection captures the different sides of Tall Dwarfs in 55 songs. Though the band was an excuse for two good friends who lived in different cities to get together, drink beer, watch shitty old movies, and do some recording and drawing, Tall Dwarfs created music unlike anyone else. Capturing the initial excitement of creation and taking pride in what they did, Knox and Bathgate showed a whole generation of musicians what could be done at home on a 4-track and what magic could be made if you mixed pop melodies and hooks galore with homemade sounds.
1. Nothing's Going to Happen 2. Luck or Loveliness 3. All My Hollowness to You 4. Maybe 5. Pictures on the Floor 6. Clover 7. Paul's Place 8. The Brain That Wouldn't Die 9. Walking Home 10. Beauty 11. Turning Brown and Torn in Two 12. Crush 13. Shade for Today 14. Pretty Poison 15. Carpetgrabber 16. Sleet 17. Burning Blue 18. Woman (Live) 19. Road and Hedgehog 20. Attack of the Munchies 21. The Slide 22. Waltz of the Good Husband 23. Cant 24. Dog 25. The Winner 26. Bodies 27. Sign the Dotted Line 28. Rorschach 29. Pirouette 30. Wings 31. Lowlands 32. Oatmeal 33. Think Small 34. Life Is Strange 35. We Bleed Love 36. More 54 37. Entropy 38. Bee to Honey 39. Self-Deluded Dreamboy (In a Mess) 40. The Green, Green Grass of Someone Else's Home 41. The Severed Head of Julio 42. Two Minds 43. Jesus the Beast 44. Albumen 45. Cruising with Cochran 46. Fatty Fowl in Gravy Stew 47. The Ugly Mire of Deep Held Feelings 48. Gluey, Gluey 49. Round These Walls 50. Room to Breathe 51. Time to Wait 52. Baby It's Over 53. We Are the Chosen Few 54. The Fatal Flaw of the New 55. Over the Hill VIDEO