The Gordons 'S/T' LP and Tall Dwarfs' 'Hello Cruel World'

In this final blog for New Zealand Music Month we continue our celebration of the vinyl in our Heritage Collections, where you'll find LPs and 45s of every musical genre, from the 1950s to the present day. Today we land in the 80s, as Andrew reviews LPs from The Gordons and the Tall Dwarfs. 


Image: The Gordons. 1988. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections.

Getting reissued any day now, here’s the 1980s noise rock debut album that trainspotters get all wound up about in the NZ stakes of early angular art punk. The Gordons, renowned practitioners of the loud and battering, augmenting live shows and venues’ PAs, with their own hot rodded, customised PA stacks, to present spectacles of sonics not usually encountered in the NewZild landscape. This album carves, scratches, scrapes, and bubbles away, riding busy grooves, droning tones, rubbery bass, hiccupping drums, and drawling, wafting, sometimes softly mumbling vocals. Could be called, that the album is a more nuanced affair, than the reputedly more punishing, more pummelling live outings. Either way, the album stretches, strains, creaks, croaks, twists and groans, like few future NZ soundscape merchants could ever touch, relying more on dynamics of volume, than the excessive pedal board real estate that dominates the sonic texture wrangling w/guitars of today. More maudlin than the band’s earlier, rawer, snottier “Future Shock “ 12” EP, still a jittery, hooky splendid spazz of an album.

Image: The Gordons. 1988. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections.

TALL DWARFS Hello Cruel World LP

The 1988 catch all LP on Flying Nun that captured mosta the tracks from the early releases of Tall Dwarf madcap pop catchiness. 

Image: Tall Dwarfs. Hello Cruel World, 1988. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections. 

Raised on all the British Invasion 1960s raw guitar hooks and lyrical quirk, Alec Bathgate and Chris Knox took that Kinks crunch and primordial Troggs groove, and wired it to Silver Apples fried synth weird and Fugs-styled Jabberwock sing speak, amongst a myriad of numerous other inspirations...the wackiness and strange that brewed in the time Toy Love existed, just gets odder, more vulnerable, stripped back, and more personal in the hands of the Tall Dwarfs twosome. A gut level perspective built out of raw, raucous emotion. A multitude of contagious acoustic string strum surge and flow, organ ooze, percussive fierce fuzzed guitar riffage, toy instrument playfulness, all topped off with the Knox knack of effortless, endless overflowing wordplay. A natural nuttiness that worms its way into heads through ear holes. An astonishing assemblage of multi-layered manic magic, instant, slightly insane, and wonderfully weird.

Image: Tall Dwarfs. Hello Cruel World, 1988. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections. 

Author: Andrew T

At the moment, physical access to the Heritage Collections reading room on Level 2 of Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero | Central City Library is temporarily closed due to the roof refurbishment project. Our vinyl will be readily available to listen to in the Heritage Collections reading room when full access to this level resumes at the start of 2022.