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Album Review
Time To Go – The Southern Psychedelic Moment: 1981-86

Time To Go – The Southern Psychedelic Moment: 1981-86
by Various

Flying Nun

Review Date
27th April 2012
Reviewed by
Nich Cunningham

Love it or hate it, Flying Nun is difficult to avoid when discussing New Zealand music. The label is a significant milestone in the development of local industry and a creative watershed with an undeniable influence both here and abroad. Flying Nun is practically a cliché in its own right. Strongly connected with the “Dunedin Sound”, the label is most commonly perceived as a purveyor of jangly alternative pop music typified by the Clean, the Chills or the Verlaines, etc.

But according to Bruce Russell, curator of this compilation Time To Go – The Southern Psychedelic Moment: 1981-86, this is a superficial understanding. Ever the contrarian, Russell argues that the main creative impetus came not from Dunedin but from Christchurch, the label’s hometown. Furthermore, Russell feels “its crucial engagement was with the psychedelic tradition of the 60s”, with punk acting as a catalyst, a year zero, allowing musicians a new sense of freedom to do whatever they liked. As dangerously revisionist as this may sound to some, it is nonetheless a thought-provoking premise and an intriguing thread to follow. It allows us to re-discover some compelling music and shed light on some more obscure artists.

Time To Go... is a collection of twenty tracks with liner notes, available on double-gatefold vinyl and I would suggest this is the ideal way to experience it. While maintaining the stated aesthetic, there’s great variety here with some of the label's better known acts (such as the Gordons, the Clean, Double Happys & the Chills) along side some of the lesser-knowns (25 Cents, Wreck Small Speakers on Expensive Stereos, The Rip and more) and even a couple of artists who weren’t originally on Flying Nun (the Playthings & the Shallows). There’s no shortage of fantastic tracks: Max Block’s 'Psychic Discharge', for example, is free-form brilliance while 'Flame Thrower' from The Chills is some kind of Can-esque discursive ramble. And that is just scratching the surface. This is definitely the sort of album that rewards repeat listening and is full of surprises.

Make no mistake: Time To Go... isn’t a greatest hits compilation and if you are just looking for characteristic Flying Nun pop songs you will probably be better served with one of the label’s other compilations. What this album offers is a refreshing new perspective on the era. In a sense, it constitutes a missing link between the label’s more experimental fringe elements and the better known flagship acts.  This is basically an album for music nerds: it’s as interesting conceptually as it is musically. It’s a record that enters the realm of historical artifact. But if that sounds like you then you’re going to lap this right up.


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