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Review: Olumpus' Album 'Caucus'

Review: Olumpus' Album 'Caucus'

Stevie Kaye / Cover image by Tim Danko / Zombo Vertov / Dead Xerox Press / Thursday 11th June, 2020 2:21PM

It's fitting that as we ease into Level One, Olumpus' Caucus presents itself to us on vinyl – Stefan Neville has thoroughly permeated lockdown. Student radio wonky pop earworm 'Rotting In My Room' (featuring the inimitable Bek Coogan of Cortina et al) was an on-the-nose soundtrack to Level Four alongside extant anthems like Marie & the Atom's 'Isol' or the Mint Chicks' 'Welcome To Nowhere' (recently covered by TOOMS), and his five / The Dogs / c90 mixtapes soundtracked runs through car-deprived industrial parks. Wellingtonians emerged into Level Two to encounter his music and covers proliferating in the Luke Wood-curated A Short Run at The Dowse Art Museum (after a pre-Covid stint at Auckland's Objectspace).

Caucus – as hinted by its title – is anything but a solitary pleasure, with twenty-two collaborators ricocheting around fourteen tracks (dare I say Lo-Fi My Pretties?). Neville's more an alchemist than svengali, as the cacophonous plurality of his voices and their deployment mock the idea of the guest vocalist – there's Dirk Diamond's demented gremlin babble on 'Mountain Of The Gods's jaunty parochial triumphalism, Clayton Noone's evocation of Alastair Galbraith on the keening 'My Feelings Are Temporary', Demarnia Lloyd-Harris playing against type with her muttering on the burbling 'It's Interesting', to the Mark E Smith-esque clatter and rattle of both Matt Plunkett (The Trendees, taking the spotlight on three tracks) and Mr Sterile, who adapts proto-beat and Peter Brötzmann fave Kenneth Patchen on 'Like Dogs Grinning At Ghosts'.

It's a glorious tiki tour through an alternate music universe full of gunk and ghosts, one that can contain both the deflationary chant "Celebrities on the beach... silly-billies on the beach" in 'Celebrities On The Beach', and the rumpled, reedy transcendence of closer 'Scummers', an outing in all but name for O/PUS (the venn diagram of Stefan's Olympus and Ducklingmonster and Liz Matthews' Octopus). It's quite the evolution from Olympus' Bold Mould (though Caucus does feature the bambino organ on two tracks, as threatened back in 2010) – let's see what 2030 brings.

Caucus is out now on limited edition vinyl LP via Stabbies Etc. Stefan Neville performs as Pumice with Oksun Ox on Wednesday 24th June at Auckland's The Wine Cellar, tickets available HERE via UTR.

Stevie Kaye is an Auckland-based music writer and DJ.


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Pumice & Oksun Ox
Wed 24th Jun
The Wine Cellar, Auckland