Compressed Gas ep

A couple weeks back, I think it was Mark E. Smith (or his internet doppelganger) who twittered about Tom Lax playing records on WFMU. The magic of technology keyed me into the stream, and I can honestly—and surprisingly—say I hadn’t heard of one singular song he played. So can we credit the almighty guru of the Siltcult as the last reservoir for unheard music from the outer satellites of the Messthetics/Xpressway/Bloodstains space time continuum? He’s sharing his stash, slowly but surely. With the revival of the Siltbreeze seal of quality, quickly followed by the Siltbreeze reissue series, he’s taken the task of excavating all the treasures of the New Zealand underground one 7-inch at a time. First it was Beyond the Implode and now the anonymously named Gas from Christchurch. There’s always a sense of wonder when playing a record originally recorded in such a remote corner of the world, and I’ve always thought of the camp from Christchurch to be the oddest varietal of the Micronesian enclaves. Sometime between 1996 and 1998, this sketchy, yet fulfilling (6 songs in 14 minutes), document was hashed out by the city’s “obscure fringe,” a group of musicians culled from McGoohans, Shallow and Scorched Earth Policy (I’m only familiar with the latter).

The Compressed Gas EP may be caked in the same fidelity you associate with Silt-alum like Dead C and the Shadow Ring, and may have been recorded in the same timeframe of the same dying decade, but what Gas do here resembles something more intrinsic to an earlier dawn when proto-punks roamed the earth and the idea of releasing independent records was the sperm in the crotch of guys like Fowley, Shepard and Rep. Of course, we’re playing with historical fiction here, as if Gas wrote “Thirst” after their first night out with Pere Ubu, where all intentions were to make it slower, slimier, sexier and somehow more sinister.

The time warp continues in this brief jaunt, but in spots there are incidents that bring Gas closer to the near-present—or at least to an era when airmail out of NZ took at least a month or more, so as to not clue in the world so quickly. “Legend of the Golden Maidens” has a steam-punk chug and charge flattened by a gravelly riff and cut with sinister, pickaxe melodies. There’s almost a groove to it, reminding me of what Pink Reason could become were hips to get involved. “Cubicle” lives by that comparison, except it’s a bit of a downer, singing about “ventricles,” “combustion” and “apoplexy” in a boarding room sucked of air. The influence of the Velvets on anything and everything is established on “Another Poor Fuck,” a quick Reedian romp by way of the Clean’s bubbly organ chirps.

Gas save the best for last in “Pushing Against Me,” which plays like pop in apocalypse, puttering around in an abandoned factory, the skeletal remains of the Davies brothers being used as percussion while the dull pulse of dying battery-run Casios is heard beyond the horizon. Then again, I’d like to think this was a Troggs outtake dug up and dusted off, posing as a caveman “Louie Louie,” replacement-hip limping, bohemian uncle. A man can dream. Word is this will be repressed, so those that missed the first boat, hold tight.
Kevin J. Elliott