A "Complete" History of
popular and obscure
Avant Garde, Experimental &
Dark-End Music in New Zealand

This is a document of New Zealand's music scene through the years covering these genres: General AVANT GARDE Musical ART- DARK-END ALTERNATIVE- EXPERIMENTAL [Acoustic & Electronic]- INDUSTRIAL- NEW WAVE - WEIRDO POP- ELECTRO- NOISE - DARK METAL....

Click on either PAST or PRESENT and you will be taken to the music history archive of New Zealand bands

Thoughout the years there have been many innovative and highly unique musical endeavours and developments within the vibrant and ever changing face of New Zealand's own brand of homegrown music.
Music became an art form. Musicians became artists. Through the years the DIY attitude grew stronger. The artist, or musician, sculpting his instrument's sounds to create new genres. For every ten or so Jazz musicians, one would stray out of the scrawled circle etched on the musical boundry line. Volume levels were peaked, pitch and frequency dials were carefully tweaked to create "new" unheard sounds. Everything was "new". Unique. Dull and ordinary – Traditional, was cast aside to make room for newly developed ideas into sound. Musicians experimented. Ordinary music was manipulated to defy all that was taken as Gospel. "Normal" music was given alternatives.
Levels of moods changed to suit the artist’s individual tastes and personalities. Avant Garde music became "Popular" in an ‘underground’ sense. It was new and different.
Many misunderstood it all. Many rejected it. Many embraced it.
As this new music became more and more understood, more accepted and a following slowly became built, the artists felt the need to break loose from the confining walls of their basement studios or bedroom sound factories.
Live performances were the next step in advancement. Performance Art became popular culture. "Underground" became a lot less underground.
It was ok to be different. Ok to try new things. New breeds of music emerged.
Hybrids were created. The melding of popular musical styles as an art form and as entertainment became slightly less objectional.

Through the musical evolutional timeline many labels and styles emerged, as did the cross-pollenization of musical ideas. Rock and Roll, mutated into Punk, Punk into Goth/New Wave. Disco became Acid, then House, then Techno, then Drum n Bass/Jungle/Gabba/Digital Hardcore/Techstep/Downbeat/Triphop. Previous ‘art’ forms, like 'Industrial' music, mutated and merged with other more palatable and popular semi mainstream Electronica styles.
Pop music developed eccentricities. Heavy Metal grew heavier, darker and confrontational.
New Age music suddenly became known as a form of Electronica.

The terms 'Avant Garde' and 'Alternative' still hung round though.
Perhaps, as testament that the new sounds were still "a bit weird" and "out of the norm".This project has taken quite a few years to compile.
I started out wanting to catalog and collate New Zealand's wide history of musical escapism. I started writing a list. A list of all the bands I liked in New Zealand.
The ones that mattered to me, from the past until today. I quickly discovered how many there actually were in this country.
The Skeptics, The Body Electric, Tall Dwarfs, Car Crash Set, Danse Macabre, Trasch, Ministry Of Compulsory Joy, Kiwi Animal, Fetus Productions...on and on the list scrolled. There were so many of them!  It has been a fun and extremely enlightening project.
Hundreds of emails, faxes, letters, visits to libraries and universities around the country, advertisements in magazines and newspapers, door knocking and telephone ‘witchhunts’ have been undertaken.
Some information was taken with permission from the band's official websites, some pieces were written by the individuals themselves. Essays and university thesis' were located and researched. Newspaper clipping archives were dug into. Collectors, record shops and recording studios all helped in gathering the information.
I have made many new acquaintances and met quite a few from the past who I have, in my youth only been able to sit back in awe of. People who have influenced my own musical and non musical dabblings from afar, are now people I can call friends.
A new respect has been formed. Many past artists are now living overseas.
Some are married with children, living out in the suburbs. Some are dead.
All share one thing in common to me. They are ALL important.
This is my effort to solidify their existence in this country.
Whether they stood their ground for a decade, or maybe just a year.
Perhaps they played a couple of gigs, or maybe they just practiced and then faded into obscurity. They were important.
They EXISTED.
I have spread my wings wide for this project. Maybe a little too wide.
I have tried to scale it down just a bit. From as far back as can be remembered, through the years up until today.
This list is by no means complete. Far from it, in fact.
Much, much more information is still needed to make it complete.
More bands and projects existed or are around today. Please help me make them known.
If you are, or were in a band or project and are not documented here, get in touch.
If any information here is not 100% correct, please help me make it so.  A big thank you, to all those wonderful people who have had input in this project.

HUGE thanks to Simon Kay, Murray Cammick, Simon Coffey and all those that allowed me to dig around in their personal archives of magazines, flyers, posters and photos.
Special THANKS also to Bob Sutton for sharing his memories, experiences and collection with me. You Rock, my friend.

This Music History is sectioned into two parts - PAST and PRESENT.

Read on.
Be enlightened and enjoy.

Mark Wallbank