R E V I E W
No Sound: A Nivara Lounge Fundraiser
Hamilton Underground Press have released a compilation album in support of Nivara Lounge during the COVID-19 lockdown; ‘No Sound: A Nivara Lounge Fundraiser’. Available via Bandcamp, all sales of this album go directly to Nivara Lounge, and all 25 songs on it have been donated by the artists.
Even ignoring the cause, this is an awesome compilation of music. And I write this as independently as I can, having acted largely just as a cheerleader through this process. The release was compiled by Rob Shirlow over not much more than a week. It features an amazing mix of international, national and local bands – almost all of whom have played the venue. With so many songs and stories within the compilation, I can’t cover all the songs here. So I will cover just some of the highlights and stories behind the contributions, and continue simply in my role as a cheerleader for what is a quite remarkable collection of songs.
Starting with the international contributions, tracks have been provided by Spiral Stairs of Pavement and John Davis, formerly of Folk Implosion. Both have donated what appear to be exclusive mixes of previously released songs. Spiral Stairs, who played at Nivara Lounge in December 2017, contributes ‘No Comparison (MHZ Mix)’, a seemingly exclusive alterative mix of a song that appeared on his ‘Doris and the Daggers’ album from that same year. Similarly, ‘Solo Silhouette’ by John Davis, who played the Lounge in June last year, also appears to be an exclusive; this is an alternative version of his song ‘Silhouette’, which appeared on his 2013 ‘Spare Parts’ album. Both of these, as with many on the album, are simply fantastic songs, and their contributions are exceedingly generous for a couple of musicians from so far away.
Nivara Lounge has provided some good crowds for The Bats on their last two visits to Hamilton, and the band have been very kind in return. The Bats have provided an unreleased song, ‘She’s Down’, which arose from the sessions of their 2011 Free All the Monsters album. If you love The Bats as I do, you will love this song! And The Bats themselves obviously rate the song, stating on social media: “We’ve selected our best unreleased song”. This gesture clearly shows their appreciation of our venue. I think it is worth noting also that the backing vocals for the recording were added to the song only a few nights ago, especially with this compilation in mind. Continuing with the generosity, The Bats frontman Robert Scott has provided a solo effort, ‘State Highway 6’, which is another album highlight.
While most of the rest of the bands on the compilation have played at Nivara Lounge, the first track is a notable exception. This was a track submitted anonymously by ‘r.p.i.l.d.’, and titled ‘I Love Nivara Lounge’; “This is a song about my happy place”, it begins. This song really sums up what Nivara Lounge means to so many people, and it serves as a great compilation opener, to keep our thoughts on what this compilation is really all about; “City park placement, the Tron’s best basement; It pushes all my buttons, but not when I am shut in”. Brilliant stuff. Who is this mysterious musician, and what is r.p.i.l.d.? Well, the following appeared on the Hamilton Music Wiki from an anonymous IP address, that explains at least part of our question:
Former members of Hamilton favourites from the ‘90s, Inchworm, have contributed a couple of songs. Now Japan-based Justin Harris contributes one of the songs from his solo project, Elider; interestingly, the song he contributes, ‘Waterdog’ (from his 2017 ‘Redbird album’), was composed live on the Nivara Lounge stage, way back when it was called JBC. Meanwhile, Scott Brodie and Rob Talsma appear in the UK-based GROK, having contributed an exclusive track “GROK 58 - Modern Hazard”, not released on any of their previous albums. This one starts out as something like Kraftwerk, and ends up somewhere near Sonic Youth. Inchworm appeared together in a sold-out one-off reunion performance in 2016, while the Hamilton version of Grok played at Nivara in 2015.
Other songs on the album include (semi-) locals The Scones’ ‘Ode to The Mountains’, the strongest track off their wonderful 2017 ‘The Greasy EP’, while Matthew Bannister, a.k.a. ‘One Man Bannister’ contributes a laid-back poppy number, the appropriately titled ‘Splendid Isolation’; it was likely written with Dunedin in mind, but certainly works well at this time. Another highlight is the Broadcast State track, ‘Abide’; their appearance on this compilation represents the release of their first ever song as a band, and certainly leaves me wanting to hear more. Bitter Defeat contribute ‘Superior Avoidance Tactics’. Bitter Defeat were booked in to record their debut EP on what ended up being the first weekend of the lockdown, so this song is one of their earlier released demo tracks, featuring only compilation organiser ‘Rob Shirlow’ without his extended band. CnC provides a point of difference to the rest of the album, with an awesome hip hop track, ‘Ko Wai Au’, which helps represent the breadth of music that can (usually) be heard at Nivara Lounge. Tracks are also contributed by Sora Shima (the excellent ‘Calor Humano’), Rumpus Room, ORBJKS, Glass Shards, The Recently Deceived and Rubine.
A number of out-of-towners also contribute songs, many of whom played at Hamilton Underground Press events, others not, including Wellington’s The Fatalities, Auckland’s Carb On Carb and REPAIRS, Tauranga’s Flogging a Dead One Horse Town, Oamaru’s The Trendees and Masterton’s Pencarrow.
Many of these bands may be more-or-less familiar to many listeners, so as with any good compilation, this release also provides an opportunity to experience some new music. And it is all yours for a $10 minimum donation! So, if you are able during this time, support our local venue, and listen to some great music, by grabbing this compilation from Bandcamp!