New Zealand - Full Moon 250 - 01/12/17
Mushroom Writers Workshop
RS / self-released
While awaiting the release of the new album by the Bats [The Deep Set, the band's 9th album - due out 27 January 2017 in New Zealand/Australia, alternatively on 3 Feb for the rest
of the world], here is a sudden new record by Robert Scott. Scott has had a fascinating career (far better and more successful than his 'namesake' Robert Falcon Scott...) for the last (almost)
40 years. Mainly as a member of the legendary New Zealand bands the Clean and the Bats, but he's also launched a number of fine solo albums.
Officially, Robert Scott has released only three solo albums: The Creeping Unknown (Thirsty Ear Recordings, 2001), Ends Run Together (Flying Nun, 2010), and The Green House
(2014, Flying Nun) - They are all fine examples of Scott's talent as a tunesmith of minimalist, jangly pop. Flying Nun also released Shix (2013), which holds outtakes and songs from the recording
of Green House. However, singer-songwriter Robert Scott has documented a long career of creating, making and recording experimental lo-fi-pop through numerous home recordings, live
recordings, demo collections, etc., launched as cassettes, CDrs or digitally. With loads of stuff/songs recorded back in the 1980s (released through EST Records or other labels) such as
Tascam Hits, Have You Been Here Before, By The Road, Tragedy Begins at Home, Harbour Town, Lauriston, More Than Meets The Eye, Send Away
(originally released under the pseudonym Gordon Wallace), Songs Of Otago's Past and many more. You'd better go check out his Bandcamp site
where you'll also find his recordings with his first band (before he joined the Clean and formed the Bats), Electric Blood; such as their first cassette recording, Electric Easter
(not released until 1984) and Songs From Another Time (2007).
Anyway, Mushroom Writers Workshop - another non-official release - was put out in December last year, only a few months after Scott launched the EP/mini-album Coastal Tales.
Productive bloke, for sure. Mushroom Writers Workshop holds nine songs, which were recorded more than 10 years ago. The songs were written and recorded accompanied by other songwriters
from the Mushroom music publishing house roster: Paul Barrett (from Pan Am), plus Australians Adalita Srsen (from Magic Dirt), and Andy Clockwise. According to Scott himself, the songs 'were
all penned rather quickly'. However, this doesn't affect the songs and the feel of the album, which sounds like a decent record. The songs appear a bit different than the Bats' catalogue,
but there are of course a few similarities as well. Such as the dryness and the janglyness, but I guess Robert Scott has tried to do something else than The Bats. Or that he has written songs
that weren't meant to be done as/by The Bats. The songs are vaguer, paler, lacking the soft and gentle pop sting (or bite...) of the Bats.
The album opens with "Just For A Minute", which is quite a charming track. "Only A Ghost" has a somewhat Go-Betweens-tint to it, or maybe the mood/atmosphere of a Robert Forster (solo) song
(alternatively, a song by the late Grant McLennan for that matter). Scott has put in two, short intermission-like instrumentals which works quite well, namely "Filter" and "Spat/Al". Especially
"Filter" is a sweet little gem. Most of the songs has an eerie, mystic, dreamier touch to them, especially "Couldn't Say Why" (with Paul Barrett singing? I might be all wrong here...) - which
somehow sounds like a Scott Walker cover. "Down to the Woods" is more of a folk'n'country song. "Icebergs" is introduced as sort of a 'Flight of the Conchords number'. The closing "Wake Up"
sticks out as most different to the other song on this record, but that is mainly because of lead vocals by Adalita Srsen(?). All in all, Mushroom Writers Workshop is a pleasant listen
with "Just for a Minute" (but, it is not Robert singing lead here?) and "Look To The Left" being the most interesting, best tracks. I highly recommend to visit Robert Scott's Bandcamp site.
You need quite some time to explore all his recordings all the way back to the early 80s. Almost before the birth of The Bats. However: Now, I am ready for the new Bats album. Bring it on!
Copyright © 2017 Håvard Oppøyen