Digital Regress's foray into the fabled NZ underground hops over to the North Island for two exquisite pieces of acoustic DIY and shadowy, cracked pastoralia.
After a few years spleen venting at the front of Wellington art brutes Shoes This High, Brent Hayward struck out on his own, self-releasing a few EPs as Smelly Feet before forming The Kiwi Animal with Julie Cooper in 1982. The duo released their first album, Music Media, on Massage Records (their own imprint) in 1984.
With the addition of Patrick Waller on cello and sundry other instruments, 1985's MERCY finds an augmented Kiwi Animal trying on what at first glance is a more refined, melancholic sound. But the group's experimental bent, largely restrained on Music Media, soon shows its hand. Pinprick ur-folk guitar themes, blinking on and off, buffeted by radio interference and toy piano; woozy bedsit slow-burns; the arresting croak of Hayward's penpal, William S. Burroughs; even a foray into dosed synth-pop: MERCY presents a unique yield of fraying, autumnal DIY songcraft.
The music of The Kiwi Animal, moody and intelligent and often abruptly gentle, works subcutaneously, propelled by guitars that churn and weave – no jangle here – and a his 'n' hers vocal delivery for the ages. Digital Regress is happy to make these essentially perfect records available again.