Nova Scotia

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In the late-90s the members of Hamilton band Negative Eh moved to Wellington and changed their name to Nova Scotia. Subsequently they have released four CD albums between 2002 and 2009, and a split LP with Dunedin band Eye in 2011.


"Revolt of Capricorn" cover art


"Tangiwai" cover art
"Ramses II" cover art
"Memphis" cover art
  • Tangiwai review by Bruce Russell, from a 2002 Corpus Hermeticum print catalogue; "Proof that there is a genuine groundswell of this abstract music, these youngsters from Nowhere NZ take on all comers and come out of their corner sluggin'. This has a great sound, murk used cleverly to differentiate certain passages, then the sound leaps to the foreground in a genuinely scarey way. I have no idea how or really why this was all done, and to me that's the highest praise I can bestow. There are new things in heaven and earth, Horatio."
  • Tangiwai review by Dan the Automator, in Cowsound (excerpt); "Anybody who sat through the Darren Aronofsky film Requiem for a Dream and says they had a good time is a candidate for the analyst's couch. That miserable tale of four lives on a drug-induced nosedive toward ruination could be admired only as one might admire an exploding hydrogen bomb – fascination and awe tempered by outrage at the ability of humankind to make conceivable such a cold and destructive spectacle. Tangiwai is a little bit like that. Not outrageous by any means, but certainly a work of art to be endured before it can be enjoyed. There are random pleasures to be extracted from the discordance, pinpricks of diamond light projecting out of the chaos – the tired piano that interrupts the band's attempt to drill to the centre of the earth at the beginning of the record; the majestic guitars struggling to be heard beneath the unruly throng that gathers toward the end. But these rare moments are very much ancillary to the alarming beasts that appear to rule Nova Scotia's decidedly abnormal world; beasts that howl and rage and drag the music deep into their dens before gleefully stripping it to the bones."
  • Ramses II review by David Keenan, on the Volcanic Tongue website; "New live working from the free NZ trio who levitated a whole bunch of beards with their last release on Metonymic. This one features Richard Whyte, Rick Jensen and Dean Brown live on 04/12/04 in Wellington, New Zealand and works blasted skeleton forms from low-level percussive shuffle, slow hurricanes of malformed tone, pitched wine glasses and saxophone squawk. Parts of this sound like a huge abandoned galleon being slowly blown to pieces by slow-motion tides. Fans of AMM, NNCK and even later Shadow Ring might well wanna smoke on these bones."
  • Ramses II review by Antony Milton on Pseudo Arcana; "Nova Scotia are the young upstarts of the NZ improvised drone and noise scene. Anyone familiar with their CD on Metonymic will be excited to see this new release. Recorded live in a small Wellington gallery 'Ramses II' catches the band (for the most part...) at their most restrained and subtle. Crystal glasses sing, distant pipes whistle, and beautiful acoustic guitar figures hang in the air. The recurring theme that glues the different movements together is an ancient 78 recording of a freight train played at rumbling volume on an equally ancient gramophone. Odd squalling saxaphone skronks serve as a tibetobuddhist style 'be here now' for those who have been lulled into an ethereal snooze..."
  • Memphis review on Heathen Harvest (excerpt); "Throughout “Memphis” is a consistently flowing top-shelf example of how electronic and acoustic sources work together in improvised music today. It's nearly impossible to not mention the classic example of AMM's pioneering work in this field or the more contemporary efforts of Evan Parker's group settings, even if Jensen's reed work owes more to someone like Jon Butcher. The interplay between Jensen's multiphonics and ornamental work and the brass-playing on the opening track is almost Scelsi-like amidst the drones and looped sounds from Whyte's guitar and the other subtle sonics. Some truly sublime and captivating music. “Rosetta Stone Paperweight” features more feedback and the sort of scraped sound aesthetic found on “AMMusic” circa 1969, but perhaps with a more sensitive set of ears. This is not improvised music of reckless abandon, but carefully crafted abstract soundscapes of the most deliberate nature. The dynamic interplay gets a bit sloppy in moments but really exposes how in touch these cats are with one another in the moment."
  • Review of a Nova Scotia live show at the Dunedin experimental music festival Lines of Flight in 2002 by Reid Gilchrist on Perfect Sound Forever; "Clearly, the practice of employing geographical themes in band designations has produced largely dubious outcomes (e.g. Asia, Boston, Chicago, America, Kansas, Berlin, Danzig, Hanoi Rocks, etc.). Also personally, I regard naming anything after anything to do with the frozen wasteland otherwise known as Canada to be a questionable aesthetic move. This is just my prejudice. I firmly believe that America has been watching the wrong border for far too long. But that's another discussion. The music of Nova Scotia, however, has got enough swank to make me forgive any misgivings about their moniker. For those who thrive on other band comparisons, their m.o. could be described as the Animacathedral Lab Technicians Orchestra of Admittance. This is not, however, to imply that these folks smartly rip off obscure bands whilst most stupidly rip off well-known bands. No, if you dig the four outfits I just referred to, you'll be happy to shovel this dirt too. Sparse, ramshackle drug shuffle that fuses kooky "ethnic" influences and improv abstractions with aplomb. Their sterling CD Tangiwai is a reference to an infamous NZ railroad disaster in 1953. Seems appropriate really as Nova Scotia truly is something of a wreck. It's simply infinitely more enjoyable to witness this one than the actual Tangiwai."

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