Various Artists
Time To Go – The Southern Psychedelic Moment: 1981-86
Flying Nun FNLP-518

Aces-up compilation of early New Zealand Christchurch-focussed avant garage, post-punk and psych compiled by Bruce Russell of The Dead C: subtitled The Southern Psychedelic Moment, Russell’s comp beautifully captures the sound of post-punk into avant rock via psychedelia that birthed the early Flying Nun sound and the whole NZ underground renaissance. In his liners Russell points to two radicalising moments in the early-80s, the decision to tour an apartheid-era South African rugby team through the country and the founding of Flying Nun Records, both of which provided a rallying point for unemployed, dope-smoking counter-cultural teens. Russell’s curatorial vision makes the perfect case for the way psychedelia was introduced as a viral agent into a new music that had internalised punk’s lessons but that was looking for ways to extend the basic blueprint. And while there are contemporary influences that come through in the music – specifically Joy Division and The Fall – the bulk of the music feels so radical in its re-think of the basic rock set-up that it’s no mere hubris to posit the 1980s NZ ‘moment’ as one of the true, far-sighted ‘year zeros’ in modern underground rock. The line-up is stunning, kicking off with The Pin Group’s amazing downer drone masterpiece “Jim” before crashing into The Clean’s amazing “In The Back” that trades two phasing guitars and motorik drums with the most primitive/euphoric fuzz guitar solos. Playthings – along with The Shallows the only bands who didn’t actually release material on Flying Nun – contribute a phenomenal femme-fronted garage cruncher followed by The Gordons’ OTT guitar blow-out “I Just Can’t Stop”, with post-VU amplifier crank married to endless six string breakdowns. Victor Dimisich Band’s “It’s Cold Outside” takes ESP-Disk-era Pearls Before Swine and marries it to the kind of deep-space balladry that defined the dosed/folk side of the PSF underground, perhaps the only truly parallel underground music scene. The live rip through The Chills’ “Flamethrower” reminds you of how vital – and aggressive – some of the early Chills sides were and there are major brain-bombing sides from Alastair Galbraith’s The Rip, Michael Morley of The Dead C’s Wreck Small Speakers On Expensive Stereos, Chris Knox’s Tall Dwarfs, 25 Cents, The Stones, The Great Unwashed, Sneaky Feelings, Scorched Earth Policy, The Shallows, Look Blue Go Purple, The Puddle, Max Block and Double Happys. Truly, the definitive document of the genesis of one of the most profoundly important underground scenes of this or any age and a mandatory purchase for any serious VT head. Comes in a gatefold sleeve and a free download. Check out Bruce Russell’s exclusive VT column for a deeper pass through the 1980s NZ underground: http://www.volcanictongue.com/columns/show/20 Highest possible recommendation!