Back in the 1990s, New Zealand’s pop and noise scene coughed up The Garbage & The Flowers.

Centred around the duo of Yuri Frusin and Helen Johnstone, the Wellington combo disgorged ‘Eyes Rind As If Beggars’ in 1997. Now based Sydney, Australia and still making a racket, that double-LP is being re-released by Fire Records. Hopefully it will find a wider audience, because its lo-fi atmospherics and deconstructed denouements seem very of the now - particularly with a bonus disc tagged on. Ranging from delicacy to dissonance, the twenty-five tracks will baffle the unwary and delight connoisseurs of pop noise and musical chaos.

The original album kicks off with the gentle ‘Love Comes Slowly Now’. Sounding like it was mastered directly from cassette, the song floats along with the most basic of beats and fingerpicked guitar lurking behind Johnstone’s voice. ‘Nothing Going Down’ sounds like it was recorded live, with flickers of tune-up sounds and audience chatter being mowed down by amped up violin feedback and guitar squall (You can understand why they’re now sharing stage with such notorious noiseniks as Birchville Cat Motel). After three and a half minutes, the vocals kick in, producing a final effect not unlike a fourth-generation Velvet Underground live dub before it comes to an abrupt, end-of-tape conclusion.

Although Johnstone lacks Nico’s Teutonic inflection, there is something of her fatalistic tone in ‘Carousel’, with its violin scrapes, plunking guitar echoing the Velvet Underground's first album. Frusin takes over the vocals for ‘Sweet Pea’, deepening the VU comparisons further (Some may also start to get a distinct, early-Royal Trux vibe from the proceedings).

‘Rosicussin Lovers’ turns up the energy, and the amplification, for an eight-minute trip through the valleys of feedback. It is not, however, mere fuzzcapades. Between the strange volume drops, drawled vocals and debauched lyrics, there is a catchy rock tune, even if it does turn into some serious ear abuse near the extended outro.

‘Marshall Sign’, the album’s briefest track - a mere two minutes - serves up more guitar squall (or is it a very distorted voice? Hard to tell ...).

Having drawn the borders of their sound on the first six tracks, the rest of the original ‘Eyes Rind’ expands on their VU addiction with ‘Garymoy’; its narrative stirring memories of ‘The Gift’ from ‘White Light/White Heat’. The four-minute, 20-second ‘Carousel’ then gets stretched out past the 14-minute mark in one of the band’s infamous live demolitions of their work, starting with some aimless noodling, heading into some mantra riffing, then devolving into some jet-engine roar. ‘Your Williams Baby’ brings things back to earth. Though the guitars are still peeling off big chunks of distortion and the violin scrapes and squeals, they’re still buttressing something recognizable as an actual song. 'Lucy in Her Pink Jacket’ and ‘Holy Holy Blue’ deliver a similarly distorted fug. ‘Nothing Going Down At All’ (which is relegated to Disc 2) wraps the album up with more of Johnstone’s downbeat folk.

The bonus disc for ‘Eyes Rind As If Beggars’ goes a little way to explaining its weird, ramshackle sonics. Three of the bonus tracks - ‘Carousel’, ‘Nothing Going Down At All’ and ‘Lucy in Her Pink Jacket’ are studio versions of album tracks, moderately cleaner but hardly temples of sonic fidelity. The disc also features ‘Catnip’ from their 1992 seven-inch, propulsive and post-punky with a crashing finale.

There is both a rehearsal version of ‘Holy Holy Blue’ which is both shorter and significantly less blown out than its final form, and an “original version” which is almost a lullaby. Indeed, a number of the bonus tracks strike a quieter mood. ‘Counting Stars’ is another folky turn, much in the vein of ‘Love Comes Slowly Now’. ‘Catherine is Only Listening' and ‘Born in the Dark’ both focus on Johnstone’s voice, with some minimal backing.

‘Eyes Rind As If Beggars’ is one long strange trip, best enjoyed as a full immersion rather than as bits and pieces. It is a work for fans of, drone and noise acts such as the Dead C and outsider music paragons like Royal Trux.











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