Lost for Words

Lost for Words features great kiwi instrumentals, songs sans vocals.

The big question is how do you define an instrumental. On the surface it seems quite simple, a piece of music that doesn't feature voice. But the whole electronic / dance music thang muddies the water. Sure it might not feature vocals but is the music made by Pitch Black or Concord Dawn what you think of as an instrumental. (Come to think of it some of that music doesn't even feature instruments, unless you're going to count a laptop.)

If we look back a bit it gets easier. Many early kiwi rock acts in the 1960s aped their overseas counterparts such as theBeatles, Stones etc and some also picked up on huge instrumental acts like The Shadows or the American surf guitar sound of Dick Dale, Link Wray and so on. In New Zealand the biggest instrumental act was Peter Posa, his most famous tune - White Rabbit. He drew on the surf guitar sound but wasn't quite so drenched in reverb and was a mighty fine picker. Peter Posa is the kiwi instrumental master. He is still around playing gospel and in fact he put out an album a couple of years back.

You all know the Ray Columbus and the Invaders hit 'She's A Mod'. What is less well known is that The Invaders recorded several instrumental B sides without Ray. A couple of these can be found on an the Very Best of Kiwi Instrumentals, an interesting budget price CD, you'll pick up Amplifier or The Warehouse.

Three decades later the debut single from Shayne Carter's post Straightjacket Fits band Dimmer was the classic, thrilling instrumental 'Crystalator', a song that exhibits both control and paint stripping ferocity. This is one of my favourite NZ singles of all time.

The podcast closes with HDU's 'Tunguska', first released as a single in 2006 after a lengthy hiatus and then included on last year's excellent Metamatics album. This song was recently described by Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd as his summer anthem. Hardly an accurate description 'Tunguska' is, never-the-less, brilliant. It's a moody and brooding guitar soundscape that invokes the feeling of isolation and menace of Tunguska, the site of a devastating early 20th century meteorite strike in Siberia.

Download the Counting The Beat - Lost for Words podcast


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