Olumpus – Caucus LP
Olumpus, née Olympus, have bubbled-up for another round nearly a decade after the release of their first LP. Bold Mould, their debut, brought two known quantity one-man racket makers–Pat Kraus and Stefan Neville–into fine duo form, birthing a brilliant post-punk side in the tradition of Jane from Occupied Europe. Caucus is their second LP, and it operates on a whole other level entirely. Caucus finds Stefan Neville in full mad scientist producer mode, at the controls, morphing Olumpus into some sort of Flying Lizards operation with himself in the Cunningham role & a giant cast of collaborators from various corners of the fertile New Zealand underground and further points abroad. The results are dense, hallucinatory, warped and catchy, and analogous with hardly anything.
Caucus gathers together 22 collaborators for 14 tracks of blistering fourth wall brilliance and confusion, and features contributions from heavyweights like Steve Dean, Ducklingmonster, Richard Youngs, Demarnia Lloyd, Clayton Noone, Matt Plunkett (The Trendees), Mr Sterile, Dan Melchior, and of course Neville and Kraus. Released collaboratively by Stabbies, Etc (NZ) and Soft Abuse (USA).
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 gathers together 22 collaborators for 14 tracks of blistering fourth wall brilliance and confusion, and features contributions from heavyweights like Steve Dean, Ducklingmonster, Richard Youngs, Demarnia Lloyd, Clayton Noone, Matt Plunkett (The Trendees), Mr Sterile, Dan Melchior, and of course Neville and Kraus. Released collaboratively by Stabbies, Etc (NZ) and Soft Abuse (USA). – https://www.undertheradar.co.nz