Some readers will realize they have encountered New Zealander Pat Kraus before, as a founding member of the Futurians and in the mail-order duo Olympus. The deliberately chaotic and amateur aesthetic that I noted in Foxy D. reviews of both groups, while carrying on the proud NZ no-fi tradition, lacked something for me. However, Kraus’ latest solo release, under his last name, is a sideways step up, and a small gem.
Kraus’ EP is the first release from the Palto Flats label, and it adds an appealing layer to the stew with an ethnic tint. Recorded (one assumes) directly to tape in the vintage manner, Kraus’ tinny speed-picked guitar solos and blown-out hypnotic grooves are similar to the vintage 45s that wind up on compilations of vintage African and Asian rock. If those frequently delicious tracks are considered rock, then Kraus is presenting a warped version of post-rock: instrumental tunes using the basic building blocks of the original songs, oblique references, toying with time and structure. In this case, the quartet of tunes offers a beguiling alternate-universe portrayal of vintage ethnic pop.
Side A opens with “Sherry,” a mesmerizingly disjointed track. Organ, guitar, and drum tracks play completely out of time with each other but somehow line up at the ends of phrases. “Prance of the Ravening Eagle” is tighter, made up almost entirely of a massive guitar solo over organ. Side B’s “Let Me Eat Cake” is more chaotic and experimental, with blipping modular synth tones and organ arpeggios stretching and blurring a melodic fragment. “Pangs of Lorna” is more of a party track, a coda that I wanted to go on for far longer. Although of humble origin, this is definitely worth tracking down, this one.