Sunday, July 28

thought fatigue / i've been here before (version 2): re-listening to Donald McPherson

To risk stating the obvious, the mythos around 'lost narratives' always has its own lost narratives. Take the case of Ravensbourne's Donald McPherson, a classically trained improvisational guitarist long considered one of the more reclusive participants in a music scene not exactly known for its overt social ease. Known for releasing incredibly small run editions on lathe-cut record, most copies of which he withdrew himself soon after. He was friends with Sandoz Lab Technicians at the Otago Polytechnic School of Art in the mid 1980s. He recorded with Three Forks (Metonymic, United Fairy Moons). He released the solo album 'Bramble' on Metonymic in 2001. The photos above are from the last gig I saw him play, with Tetuzi Akiyama, at the High Street Project in Christchurch in 2010, a rarity as far as these things go. As sometime collaborator (Three Forks member and curator of the United Fairy Moons label) Jimmy Currin recently put it in a review in Dunedin street press imprint Point:

"It seems hardly a week can go by without the international underground railroad coughing up some new lost gem; sometimes as re-releases but most assiduously over the internet. 'Some Songs' ought to have been among them by now, but as it was released in an edition of 20 lathe-cut copies, you'll be forgiven for never knowing it existed - though it easily stands alongside its near contemporaries, Alastair Galbraith's 'Talisman' and Crude's 'Inner City Guitar Perspectives' as a document of rugged individualist Dunedin splendor."

Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, c. April-May 2013 an outpouring of eleven releases (including the abovementioned Some Songs, but remarkable for its diversity and multiple personae) is available, not on one of the labels currently shining the limelight of the re-release on the various cobwebbed corners of the South Island Psych moment, but as full albums uploaded on Bandcamp, by Donald himself. Some are recorded on 4 track, the more recent ones on a Zoom. Most have never been available before. What are we to make of this? Will their strange, singular sublimities change our understanding of the South Island's musical mythos?

Donald himself sounds as skeptical about such grand narratives, and as personal, as ever: 

"Weird releasing this stuff, some of my guitar recordings seem like the product of an adult human being but my song stuff seems to have something eternally adolescent and amateur about it ... with clunky rhyming verse lyrics that seem to betray a low self esteem and seldom transcend being somehow about "me".... too bad. It's what I do. I've gotta put some of it "out there" and move on. I keep swinging between thinking my stuff is the cat's pyjamas and the next minute being mortified by how "bad" it is. Maybe that's normal....."

to listen to/download the albums, read more of Donald's thoughts (and have the chance to pay him for his work), go here

otherwise, listen in to Avant Gardening tonight for about three hours of Donald's music. We will eventually podcast an interview with him here too.



1. Donald McPherson, 'Black Windows' from Mirrors & Windows (2013)
2. Donald McPherson, 'At The Crack' from Bramble (2001)
3. Donald McPherson, 'Icicle Man Melts' from Bramble (2001)
4. Donald McPherson, 'Bramble' from Bramble (2001)
5. Donald McPherson, 'R.I.P' from Bramble (2001)
6. Three Forks, 'Peru' from Seven Layer Ape (2006)
7. Three Forks, 'Drunken Traffic' from Seven Layer Ape (2006)
8. Donald McPherson, 'Boulder State' from Domestic Flights (2013)
9. Donald McPherson, 'Pick-ture' from Domestic Flights (2013)
10. Donald McPherson, 'Haunts' from Domestic Flights (2013)
11. Donald McPherson, 'Fructifying' from Domestic Flights (2013)
12. Donald McPherson, 'Seascape Panorama' from Domestic Flights (2013)
13. Donald McPherson, 'Perambulare' from Mirrors & Windows (2013)
14. Donald McPherson, 'Reverie' from Variety Show (2013)
15. Donald McPherson, 'For Sooth' from Variety Show (2013)
16. Donald McPherson, 'For When You Need Your World Reborn' from Variety Show (2013)
17. Donald McPherson, 'Dark Clouds Looming' from Deviations 
18. Donald McPherson, 'Calling to the Past 1' from Anomalies (2013)
19. Donald McPherson, 'Calling to the Past 2' from Anomalies (2013)
20. Donald McPherson, 'Calling to the Past 4' from Anomalies (2013)
21. Donald McPherson, 'Paranoid Lovesick Dream' from Slag-Heap Wonders (2013)
22. Donald McPherson, 'Pining' from Slag-Heap Wonders (2013)
23. Donald McPherson, 'A Question of Time' from Slag-Heap Wonders (2013)
24. Donald McPherson, 'Lofi Song' from Slag-Heap Wonders (2013)
25. Donald McPherson, 'Volgograd Way' from Slag-Heap Wonders (2013)
26. Donald McPherson, 'The Peasant (live)' from Slag-Heap Wonders (2013)
27. Donald McPherson, 'Things Aint Dead' from Some Songs (2013)
28. Donald McPherson, 'Above the Nut' from Some Songs (2013)
29. Donald McPherson, 'Shadow on Your Heart' from Some Songs (2013)
30. Donald McPherson, 'Lullaby Shit' from Some Songs (2013)
31. Donald McPherson, 'Wee Willie Wank' from Some Songs (2013)
32. Donald McPherson, 'Decap' from Some Songs (2013)
33. Donald McPherson, 'Well Kept Carpet in an Old House' from Some Songs (2013)
34. Donald McPherson, 'I Have Been Here Before' from Breakups & Breakdowns (2013)
35. Donald McPherson, 'Forced Optimism 1' from Breakups & Breakdowns (2013)
36. Donald McPherson, 'Hanging In There' from Breakups & Breakdowns (2013)
37. Donald McPherson, 'Running Free' from Breakups & Breakdowns (2013)
38. Donald McPherson, 'Ships 1' from Breakups & Breakdowns (2013)
39. Donald McPherson, 'Psychotherapy For Basil Brush' from Breakups & Breakdowns (2013)
40. Donald McPherson, 'Bouncer' from Twenty-Twelve (2013)

No comments:

Post a Comment