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This Is Not a Dream

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Album Review

While Dadamah is often seen as another step along the way in the artistic path of Roy Montgomery, he'd be the first to agree that does a disservice to his equally talented bandmates. Singer/bassist Kim Pieters writes the fascinating if sometimes hard to read liner notes for this complete career overview, while there's also keyboardist/backing vocalist Janine Stass as well. Together the trio continued the by-then well-established Kiwi underground music tradition of shadowy, haunting music and production, helped by noted figure in said scene Peter Stapleton, who also took care of drumming as needed. Unless the consistently aggro noise fests of, say, the Dead C or Gate, Dadamah also draw on a generally more spare but no less compelling approach, often building up arrangements and then settling back again, or else maintaining a continuing steady, gently addictive pace. There's the roots of Montgomery's work in the Pin Group, naturally, with its own echoes of Joy Division and early Cure, but there's also a very strange, folky vibe as well that at points suggests the work done half a world away by Dave Pearce in Flying Saucer Attack. Both Pieters and Montgomery's singing draws on the more idiosyncratic post-punk approach to vocals, eschewing technical skill in favor of just getting it out. Whether it's Pieters' higher, sometimes wailing approach or Montgomery's stern, strained and reflective singing, though, words and music almost always go very well together throughout. Stass' keyboard work, meanwhile, adds even more of a strange, odd edge to proceedings. Sometimes the tone is almost a bit jaunty, as the swinging skip and burbling keyboard notes of the lengthy "Too Hot to Dry," sung by Pieters, shows, even with the usual murky production style. With highlights like the Montgomery-sung "High Tension House," where the title phrase comes from, and the truly tripped, Pieters-sung "Radio Brain," This is Not a Dream is well worth investigating.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

Part of New Zealand’s close-knit experimental rock scene, Dadamah was a short-lived quartet founded by guitarist Roy Montgomery (member of seminal post-punk band the Pin Group) and drummer Peter Stapleton (Terminals, Vacuum, and The Victor Dimisich Band). Enlisting two enthusiastic but novice players in singer Kim Pieters and organist Janine Stagg, the group’s shimmering, lo-fi take on motorik noise rock garnered the attention of U.S. indie Drag City, who included the track “Replicant” on their Xpressway...
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This Is Not a Dream, Dadamah
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