Originally from Christchurch, Bailterspace began life in 1986, from the ashes of Gordons. Following several releases with Flying Nun — including 1990's critically-acclaimed Thermos — their atmospheric guitar-driven, Richter scale-registering sound gained the attention of industry heavyweights in New York, and they were signed to iconic independent label Matador Records. The band was also namechecked as an influence by New York rockers Interpol. Bailterspace took an extended hiatus in 2004, but have returned sporadically to release two further albums, and make occasional live appearances.
Record label Flying Nun is synonymous with Kiwi indie music, and with autonomous DIY, bottom-of-the-world creativity. This collection celebrates the label's ethos as manifested in the music videos. Selected by label founder Roger Shepherd: "A general style may have loosely evolved ... but it was simply due to limited budgets and correspondingly unlimited imaginations."
The band has its origins in Christchurch, but this video takes their trademark sonic guitar to the subways and streets of their adopted home of New York. Shot in 1996 it feels more emblematic of the recession era as a robotic businessman crawls on its belly towards redundancy on Wall St. It's a striking key image as he/its battery runs down in front of the Stock Exchange Building amongst oblivious pedestrians. Liberty: Bailterspace style.
Julie Hermelin's (Sarah McLachlan, Luscious Jackson, Moby, Ben Folds Five) mesmerising video shows the band playing while NYC streetlife passes by ... in reverse. A clever if not confounding concept when considering the band's performance, which appears to be forwards. Extraordinary processing and grainy contrast further enhance this one take time-space wonder. Note the man "reconstructing" an apple with his mouth.
This documentary tells the story of the legendary Flying Nun music label up to its 21st birthday. The label became associated with the 'Dunedin Sound': a catch-all term for a sprawl of DIY, post-punk, warped, jangly guitar-pop. The Guardian: "[it's] as if being on the other side of the world meant the music was played upside down". Features interviews with founder Roger Shepherd and many key players, the spats and the glory. The label's influence on the US indie scene is noted, and Pavement's Stephen Malkmus covers The Verlaines' 'Death and the Maiden'.
Bold lighting and caterwauling guitars push this largely black and white performance clip above others of the era. Silhouette and strobing make for a mesmerising video that deserves a consumer health warning for those affected by flashing lights. After line-up changes and much remembered live gigs, the Christchurch noise-meisters ultimately morphed into Bailterspace.
Flaming torches and streaming ribbons hanging off the front of the car are not your usual Kiwi road-trip accessories, but they're perfect visuals for this classic Bats song. Not to mention the iconic whirling burning guitar on the roadside. Alongside the imagery of motion, fluid camerawork tracks the band performing in front of a DIY Jackson Pollock-esque backdrop. Alister Parker (Gordons, Bailterspace), John Chrisstoffels, and Paul Kean (The Bats) are the directorial team. The song featured in Harry Sinclair movie Topless Women Talk About Their Lives.
The lifespan of these Christchurch experimental rockers was short but sure; they were rumoured to be a major early influence for Sonic Youth. They disbanded after releasing early 80s records awash in driving guitar. One of the founding members, Alister Parker, went on to form Nelsh Bailter Space (later Bailterspace). Melody Maker: "saying Gordons were loud is like saying the Beatles were a pop group". NME: "When you put it on not only will your lawn die, your Motorhead albums will shrivel in their sleeves."