Nineteen ninety​-​eight

by Group Five

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about

This is a demo EP thing I knocked out over the summer of 1998-99 (burnt it to CDR and made it available mainly to friends). Maybe I shoulda left it buried, but I heard it in a friend's car recently and got inspired to dust it off, make it available again.

My original idea was to record four songs, and then make dub versions of each; in the end, I only did so for two. I planned it as a four-track recording, and somehow talked Stuart McDonald and Michael Upton into lending me their time, patience and equipment. Michael sequenced up breaks, basslines and samples; we transferred these to Stuart's four-track; I laid down guitar, vocals and whatever else; and then Stuart mixed them back into a digital format.

For this release, I've re-treated the recordings a bit (I'd say remastered but they were never mastered), but I haven't tried to polish them. Tape hiss and compression were always part of the idea.

One thing that makes this EP different to what I do now is that I sing on it, singing words and stuff. But I was already feeling the pull towards instrumental music. My lyrics for these songs were meant to be words-as-atmosphere, suggesting but not providing any actual meaning (and my vocal technique was an unintended insult to everyone I know who can sing...)

Anyway, here's something about the individual songs:

TRUST YOU DUB

This is the weakest track, so I put it first (I guess I didn't believe in front-loading). I wasn't happy with the lyrics, so I skipped straight to the "dub" version, faking some drop-ins by singing random syllables. Some of them are based on the lyrics. There was one line I liked, taken from a conservation poster and used in the chorus. It was "I drain rain".

Meanwhile, the tape was damaged and dirty, and a lot of high end was lost. It sounded like you were listening to it with wobbling fingers in your ears. I probably would've ditched it, but Stuart salvaged the track at the mixing stage, well enough to change my mind.

CUTTING OFF THE SKYLINE

The lyrics for this song were inspired by the protests against Variation 17, but also by whatever was in front of me when I was recording (polystyrene, phone jacks, sunlight...) Meanwhile, for whatever reason, I miscalculated how many bars I needed for each verse, and ended up repeating lines to pad it out. For the reissue I've taken the opportunity to cut out the padding.

SOUL

The lyrics started from reading about Marvin Gaye, and then getting annoyed by certain critics who would belittle soul music, calling it limited and saying that any good soul "transcended" the genre ("transcendence" is a weasel word). There's also an allusion to Bowie and Low, and to the theme tune of the mid-80s TVNZ drama Heroes.

As for the music, at the time I thought the bassline didn't sound as much like "Stratus" or "Safe From Harm" as it clearly does. Also, that guitar line gave me RSI.

SKYLINE DUB

Probably the best thing here — but credit where it's due: anything good about it that isn't Michael's doing is Stuart's. I made a couple of alterations for this re-release: first, I shortened it, like with the parent song; and second, I mixed in some of the vocals as background texture.

SOUL DUB

This is just the original in reverse. But if you think that sounds lazy, it was always my plan — I wrote the original with this in mind. For one thing, the orchestral drone is played in reverse in the original version, so for the dub version I wanted it to go the right way round.

CARCINOGENESIS

I tried writing lyrics for this, but gave up pretty quickly. I wanted to write my own "Liquidator" anyway, and here it was: a straightforward poppy instrumental number. Unfortunately I lacked the courage of my convictions and slapped that voice sample on it during the four-track phase. But even that would've been okay if I hadn't put it so high in the mix. I'm still proud of "Carcinogenesis" as a composition though, and the performance isn't too bad either.

credits

released January 31, 1999

(Original liner notes)
Written A. Loughnan
Produced A. Loughnan ∕ M. Upton
Mixed S. McDonald
Nov 98-Jan 99

(re-released 23 August 2016)

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Group Five Wellington

Andrew Loughnan (New Zealand) does abstract instrumental beats and stuff...

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