Sandoz Lab Technicians – Plastic Carved Out In The Shape Of The Music 2CD
Plastic Carved Out In The Shape Of The Music compiles all the non-album releases of the 1990s by Dunedin free improvisation quartet-cum-trio, Sandoz Lab Technicians. One of many hermetic enclaves of creative endeavour in the nineties NZ underground, Sandoz Lab Technicians are James Kirk (also of King Loser, The Stumps, Black Boned Angel, Renderizors, etc.), Nathan Thompson (Sleep, Renderizors, Eye, Expansion Bay, etc.), Tim Cornelius (Sky Blue Lodge, Three Forks, Ray Off, etc.) and, for their first few years, Mark Curragh.
Like many of their peers, Sandoz Lab Technicians also ran their own label, Blunt Instrumentals, on which they released lathe-cuts of their own music, both with Sandoz, and in other configurations (The Cornelius Brothers, Unspecified, etc.); once word had spread, particularly thanks to the release of their debut album on Siltbreeze, their music also leaked out via an international network of small labels dedicated to underground experimental music. Plastic Carved Out In The Shape Of The Music features all their Sandoz self-released EPs, and a few extra bits and pieces, offering the listener an excellent overview of their music’s development, from their very first sessions, through to the wildly sophisticated free noise sculpting of their later material.
Sandoz Lab Technicians were always a curious proposition, even within the NZ free noise ‘scene’ (such as it was, or was not). Their early material has a particularly loose, suburban cast, not without some humour: the material sounds like it’s been recorded in scungy lounge rooms, dimly lit hallways, kitchens full of bric-à-brac, sharehouses with dusty curtains. Neighbours drop by to ask about their cats; guitars clang, drums tumble, all kinds of incidental instruments clatter and pulse, in a matter not unlike collectives like Smegma or Los Angeles Free Music Society (as mentioned in the excellent liner notes by Mike Trouchon).
As the group’s playing develops, the music becomes more expansive, patient, laminar. The audio verité recording techniques gift the music an unerringly right sense of space, place, and drama; the interaction between the musicians is always spot-on, growing in sensitivity and nuance over the course of these two discs, able to flip on a dime from all-in group-mind levitation to inhabiting parallel, coincident universes. It’s a bravura collection of music that tells us much about free and improvised sound from the South Island, while still holding its cards close to its chest. – Jon Dale
37 tracks presented on 2 CDs, the first one compiling tracks recorded between 1993 and 1996 and the second one 1996 to 1999. 6-panel digipack with a 12-page booklet. Edition of 500 copies.