Sunday Postscripts: By Sam Valentine

Lights on in the bedroom

For semi-anonymous lo-fi pop savant Trick Mammoth, sharing his music can often be more difficult than making it.The Malaysian born, Dunedin-based “bedroom musician” has been sporadically releasing limited demo tapes via bandcamp since 2010 – usually only to self-consciously remove and delete them hours later.

But in recent months, with the encouragement of Dunedin music/art collective The Attic, Trick Mammoth’s output has been increasing, in volume and longevity.

His first “official” release came as part of It Came From the Attic, a compilation of Attic-associated Dunedin acts, released in conjunction with Auckland independent label Muzai Records. Following that wasFloristry, an album-length collection of self-described “demos” recorded entirely with a single Singstar microphone.

I asked him about the daunting prospect of sharing his art.

“I’m a really closed person and I feel really exposed when singing,” Trick said. “Not really because of the lyrics or whatever because they’re not really that personal. To be perfectly honest, I’m just not a big fan of my voice and the songs I write are usually extremely focused on vocals. So yeah, that makes it hard for me to share stuff.”

Despite the shyness these reservations might convey, on Floristry, there’s an assured, unified grasp of aesthetics – the sound of an artist starting to crystalise the vision of his craft.

Sitting between Elliott Smith-style alt-folk and the reverb swirl of Deerhunter meets ’60s psych-pop, Floristry is an enchanting, sleepy and reflective album.

Based on an idiosyncratic and rhythmic acoustic guitar jangle and wispy, often falsetto-harmonised vocals, its lo-fidelity recording only adds to its charms.

And with strong lyrics echoing Bob Dylan’s liquid mercury of montage style surrealism, and the most straightforward love songs of Motown-era girl groups, vocally it carries an erudite, reflective personality, and an overriding love for the sound of words.

From references to advanced cinematic theory (double occupancy) to more abstract image-heavy creations, such as the evocative and perfectly named Drown in Watercolour, there is a wealth of imagination, culture, and thoughtfulness here that most established artists would crave.

With Floristry already beginning to gain attention locally and internationally, Trick Mammoth says he has about 60 further tracks in the pipeline.

The next of these releases, currently titled Sub-Aquatic, a further collection of acoustic demos, is due to be released next week.

“It’s just a five-song EP,” Trick said. “It’s songs that were written around late 2010. I’m still basically working through demos of older songs.”

Currently performing solo around the city, Trick Mammoth is also focusing on expanding into a full band in preparation for more recordings and releases.

For more information, visit trickmammoth.tumblr.com or www.facebook.com/TrickMammoth


Get it
Trick Mammoth’s debut demo tape, Floristry, is available now from trickmammoth.bandcamp.com.
Sub-Aquatic is due to be released next week.

This article appeared in the Otago Daily Times on Sat, 27 Oct 2012

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