New Music

Listen: Piece War – Call on Me


Piece War are a guitar and drums duo from Auckland featuring Barbara Rocha and Tina Pahema of the Coolies. At first glance, the band seem part of the well-worn garage aesthetic of cheaply distorted guitars, straight-forward drum patterns and sweetly-sang vocals – but the songs of Piece War always redeem themselves from these unfair associations.

‘Call on Me’ (and much of the rest of their digital EP, Apathy) carries a deep dose of turbidity underneath the sunny guitar-pop surface. It gets anxiously distracted mid-track before careering off into infectious (but quickly obscured) vocal melodies. ‘Dead Bodies’ (also on the Apathy EP) is the opposite, beginning sweetly before falling into a morbid, adjacent chorus. Like their expressions of insecurity and suggested failures, Piece War always push their songs to collapse.


‘Call on Me’ is from a now sold out 10″ released on Epic Sweep Records, but the digital version can be purchased from Piece War’s bandcamp.


On The Edge of Sleep: Heinz Riegler and Sleeper reviewed

Heinz 3Pictured: Heinz Riegler

Ambient drone music is usually fixed to a certain location. It focuses on a particular environment and through repeated study brings it to life. The quiet exploration of tones and slow recurring passages do not suggest a movement towards anywhere, and yet, there is limitless potential in what you can imagine when listening to a calm drone record. This music seems purely in service to these ends.

Sleeper’s debut cassette From Beyond is a recording I have used for purely functional purposes for many weeks now. I listen to it while I am reading books. I listen to it while I am sleeping. I listen to it while I am writing. It is not that I’ve missed any meaning or purpose behind this recording, but instead that I have selected to ignore it. Besides, I suspect the artist is on my wave length here.

The reason Sleeper’s cassette is unusual is because it offers a sense of both moving away, and moving towards. Each of the two tracks on this album are punctuated by traditionally structured music which slowly dissipates or ascends. The A Side opens with a sad orchestral passage both nostalgic and yearning, but it’s not long before it frays at its edges and transforms into tired ebbs of tortured sound. It then explores these tired ebbs for over ten minutes, and then fades away.

Sleeper’s songs feel like elongated versions of these opening and closing movements. They’re reminiscent of The Caretaker’s practice of slowing and manipulating old ballroom classics, except here the resulting ghosts are far more distant and far less capable of extending their narratives. Instead, it feels like Sleeper’s drones are a slow drift towards the song itself, and we become so close that we lose our perspective and size in relation to it. Sleeper’s fleeting use of structured song is like a phenomenon inviting an embrace, but when we move towards it it grows into something we can get lost in the arms of. It is beautiful and calming yet also alarming in this respect.

Heinz Riegler’s cassette, also released on A Guide To Saints, is called Sleep Health. Formerly of Brisbane group Not From There, Riegler has collaborated with Mike Cooper and David Toop and now works predominantly as a sound artist. Sleep Health was performed and recorded to encourage the listener to fall asleep. In Riegler’s words, if the listener has failed to fall asleep during the song’s 17 minute duration then he as the artist has failed.

It’s very encouraging when an artist permits you to nap during their ambient drone music, because this type of music always sounds best right at the edge of sleep. Unlike Sleeper, Riegler’s tape is familiar in the way it simply presents an environment of sound and explores its four corners, its heights and its depths for the duration of the piece. You are not encouraged to imagine this as a strange fringe world on the edge of something else, but instead as a new distinct setting. What you imagine then is up to you.

The interesting thing about both cassettes though, is that each encourages calm or rest in a manner which keeps the mind active. It is very difficult not to engage with these albums, like you can disengage from a rock record playing in the background. It may be possible to sleep during Riegler’s piece, but it is difficult not to get caught up in his chiming twilight world and fill it out with visions from your own imagination. And that, I think, is the central appeal of this type of slowly melodious ambient drone music: it invites you into your own interior, even if sometimes you may not notice.


Heinz Riegler’s Sleep Health and Sleeper’s From Beyond are available through Room 40 offshoot A Guide To Saints.

New Music

Listen: a Sleeper mix tape


To celebrate the release of his new cassette From Beyond on Room 40 offshoot A Guide to Saints, New Zealand drone pop artist C.J Parahi, aka Sleeper, has provided us with an illuminating mix tape. It is probably best listened to while nodding off, so make sure you’re not operating heavy machinery or watching televised sport.

Sleeper’s new cassette is definitely worth checking out while you’re here: it somehow manages to marry cloudy ambiance with some very unusual widescreen cinematic moves. One minute you’re staring into a supernaturally bright sky just waiting for an apocalyptic gash to appear, and the next you’re ever so slowly drifting into it. Towards, but never through. It’s beautiful.

But in the meantime, here’s the mix tape for you. There are a couple of fairly obvious touchstones and also some outliers. The track list is below the embed.

Opening Title – The Driller Killer
Virginal II – Tim Hecker
794-9065 – Lee Noble
Two Ellipses – Primitive Motion
Angel Dust – Pierrot Lunaire
Edge of Darkness (Excerpt) – Sleeper
Creeper – Sleeper
Shade – Komodo Haunts
Mist Call – Komodo Haunts
A Place to Get Lost In – Love Cult
The Unexplainable – Andreas Brandal
Winter Meeting – Selaxon Lutberg