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Records: The Victor Dimisich Band's My Name is K

By David Auerbach

Roy Montgomery said that the Victor Dimisich Band was "comprised of people who were not well-adjusted socially." That might go a ways to explaining why these 1981-82 Christ-church, New Zealand recordings seem almost divorced from the rest of the world. While new wave, European avant-garde, and the last exponents of punk were doing their thing up north, the VDB was dealing in a fragile garage sound recalling only the Velvet Underground, topped off by the ghostly, morose vocals of one Stephen Cogle, who just happened to possess one of the greatest, purest voices ever.

Cogle and drummer Peter Stapleton would go on to start the Terminals and issue three of the best albums of all time. On this compilation of their five-song Flying Nun EP and a live Xpressway tape, they're joined by the Bilders' Allan Meek, who brings very trebly organ and frantic guitar. The sound is livelier and less brooding than the Terminals', but the general rule is slow-motion quasi-"pop" like "It's Cold Outside" and "Jonah," with shambling guitar, steady, minimal drumming, and Cogle's unearthly crooning.

Take the opener, "Native Waiter." Percussive strums meet hesitant organ and insistent drums, Cogle's voice gradually rises into a frenzy as the song accelerates into a messy wall of guitar. Messy is the word for it, and it's intentional. The live version of "Claude" is fastidious and firm, each chord completed and played right on time. Like the best (and often fleeting) parts of the first two Velvets' albums, Cogle and company set the most primitive of elements at oblique angles to one another, and the result ranks with the best music of this or any era.

The Victor Dimisich Band dissipated soon after the EP, so the rerelease of these tracks is a small miracle, owing mostly to the dedication of Stapleton and his tiny label, Medication. Like most of the stuff I've reviewed in these pages, the Victor Dimisich Band is not for all tastes--it requires an appreciation for utterly serious, single-minded intent channeled through the unlikeliest of means. But I have absolute faith that, like the Monks, the Creation, Slapp Happy, Subway Sect, and a few dozen other crucial bands, the VDB's music will be around in 20 years, being played by the next real underground.

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