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Pumice (New Zealand): Puddles *

Track List

>Why I Chew My Sleeves
>Set of 666
>Window into a Egg, A
>Mothers in Mantis
>What Did You Have for Tea Last Night
>Ahipara Spaniel

Album Notes

Nearly two and a half decades after first emerging as part of New Zealand's lo-fi cassette underground, Stefan Neville's Pumice has expanded its sound a bit, but maintains the cracked musicianship and unconventional approaches to rhythm, vocals, songwriting, and basically everything else. While Pumice has primarily been a solo venture of Neville, Puddles is his most collaborative album yet, with guest musicians such as Kraus, GFrenzy, and Leighton Craig helping out on nearly all of the album's songs. Of course, the results are unmistakably Pumice, as nobody else but Neville could really dream up these types of blown-out downer jams. There's a greater presence of keyboards on this album, from the wheezing synth of opener "Why I Chew My Sleeves" to the glacial pianos of tracks like "Glordinary." A few tracks even have violins, such as the Jandek-ian "What Did You Have for Tea Last Night." There's also an oddly folky, stripped-down feel to the acoustic guitar plucking of "Bolus" and the brief "Medallion." One of the album's catchiest (by Pumice standards) songs is "Mothers in Mantis," which bizarrely features a chorus of children singing and moaning along with Neville's distortion-devoured vocals. The sprawling, drifting instrumental "Ahipara Spaniel" ends the album, riddled with malfunctioning feedback and crashing drums, shifting his sound closer to improvisational free jazz than his more properly composed songs. The album doesn't quite hit the highs of his previous effort, 2012's incredible Puny, nor does it feel nearly as focused, but it's still an undeniably unique recording. ~ Paul Simpson


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