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Album Review
Tiger Belly

Tiger Belly
by Tourettes

Round Trip Mars

Review Date
27th September 2011
Reviewed by
Scott Nicolson

Tourettes is one of New Zealands’ most exciting musical entities. Entity is an appropriate word considering the nature in which he ‘gets around’ the musical landscape. From Punk band beginnings, to Fifth Floor in Wellington, to Hip Hop as part of the Breakin Wreckwordz collective, to spoken word performances in recent years, and guest appearances on other artists’ tracks for the best part of a decade – Dominic has certainly ticked some boxes.

Tourettes has also released an album every 2 years since 2005, ‘Tiger Belly’ is his first for the Round Trip Mars label. The first taster was the solid (and somewhat hilarious) ‘Inside My Head’. It has a real punk vibe with live guitars, bass and drums. This no doubt has to do with those involved with the making of this album. Tiger Belly’s album credits include Saan Barratt from The Vietnam War handling all the music and arrangements, and Karl Steven of Drab Doo Riffs’ tracking and producing all the vocals as well as mixing the album. The influence of these two on ‘Tiger Belly’ is obvious in regards to the backing track instrument choices and the overall feel of the album.

To my mind, Tourettes has always been from the dark side of the force, and this album is no exception with the subject matter. Bordering on bleek at times, - ‘Caspa And Alice’ – a sad tale of love, confusion and loss, to the downbeat vocal with a sublime looping melody of stand-out track - ‘World War 3’ featuring Matthew Crawley on chorus vocal duties, to the slightly absurd but genius - ‘Everybody Loves Tourettes’. The latter features vocal snippets of network television news presenters discussing the merits (or otherwise) of Tourettes. That particular track epitomises the Tourettes ethos – equally self deprecating but shouting out those who detract.

Other points of interest are the Ryuichi Sakamoto nod on ‘Valentines For Vampires’, the regular input of group-like chorus chants on ‘Tonight’ and ‘Drug Problem’, waves rolling samples feature on ‘Sat At The Beach’ (and return again on ‘Caspa And Alice’). Spoken word references on ‘…Beach’ and ‘The Phones Ringing’ whilst ‘So Happy’ has the more Hip Hop production for a switch up early on.

Overall, Tourettes has made a very bold, and ultimately smart move bringing together a standout line-up of musicians and producers from different genres. Although the new album doesn’t his feature regular production partner Scratch 22, it does clearly show the man has exceptional dynamic diversity and versatility with his musical choices, and waxing lyrical - Tourettes is as sharp witted, topical, and informed as ever. Make no mistake, this is a Hip Hop record but ‘Tiger Belly’ is an album that is just as refreshing to the indie crowd.


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