Agitated Atmosphere: Bruce Russell & Roy Montgomery - split LP

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Roy Montgomery and Bruce Russell.

New Zealand has always had its share of majestic mystery; piles of Western tourists drawn to the oblong island in search of beauty captured only in dreams. But the nation has long found itself in the shadow of its neighbor, Australia, as far as culture is concerned. In fact, New Zealand is starkly different in its evolution—look no further than the works of Bruce Russell (The Dead C) and Roy Montgomery.

Legends beyond their native home, Russell and Montgomery have done much to perpetuate and spread the glory of New Zealand’s cavernous sound. Through collaborations, piles of solo material, and scant writings, these two pillars of New Zealand have furthered the cause of the New Zealand underground through powerful guitar missives.

The recent split LP, released as part of the Grapefruit Record Club is no different, each guitarist composing a unique slice of New Zealand in two lengthy, disparate works.

Russell has always been an aggressor in his work (The Dead C and A Handful of Dust among others) and His musings within the 20 minute “Mistah Chilton, He Dead” are just as industrial and mechanical as his old work, Russell’s guitar screeching and clawing its way out of a civilized malaise. “Mistah Chilton, He Dead” plays like a warning toward Western culture: do not pollute New Zealand with your bourgeois poison and righteous indignation; we have our own hearts and minds. Russell is a dog with both bark and bite, ferociously growling at our intrusion while sharing a bit of scenic sound amidst the chaos.

Bruce Russell - Mistah Chilton, He Dead (Abridged)

Montgomery’s “Tarkovsky Tone Poem,” continues the guitarist’s work in eloquent layering. Simplistic repetition building upon itself until it becomes a meditative din—the soundtrack to the view of New Zealand as we’ve long imagined it. Of course, Montgomery’s ode does recall Solaris, the work of Andrei Tarkovsky. These 20 minutes, as opposed to Russell’s, are spectral. The building waves of drone and distortion run through you like a galactic apparition.

Roy Montgomery - Tarkovsky Tone Poem (Abridged)

Our New Zealand is but a figment of imagination; the home of Montgomery and Russell is what is transmitted through your speakers. It’s rough, wild, and free. To be the spoiled victor to truly know all her wonders…

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist whose work can be viewed at his website. You can also find him on Twitter.

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